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Aucklanders weary of demands for lifting Covid restrictions
Despite protests by political
parties, leaders and some
sections of the business sector,
some experts and average
Aucklanders are of the view that the
country’s largest city should not move
down from its current lockdown unless
there is certainty that the pandemic will
not hit back.
There was a sigh of relief on Monday,
September 14, 2020 when Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern announced that the
current Alert Level 2.5 will continue
for another week (until 1159 pm on
Wednesday, September 23, 2020) and
that her Cabinet will meet on September
21, 2020 to decide if there was advise and
evidence that Covid-19 is under check.
“We will move from Alert Level 2.5
only if there is appropriate advice from
our health officials backed by solid
evidence. We do not want to stay under
lockdown any more than it is necessary.
New Zealanders have sacrificed a lot and
we should squander that away,” she said,
speaking at a media conference in Otago.
She said that the rest of the country
will remain on Alert Level 2 and that a
decision on this status will also be taken
Almost all political leaders condemned
the decision but more about this later.
For well over a month, at least two
famous Epidemiologists have been
vociferous in their thinking that there
ought to be considered decision before
lifting lockdown levels.
Otago University Epidemiologist
Professor Michael Baker rightly believes
that we should have a better elimination
strategy, achieved through better contact
tracing, testing and mask use rather than
But he cautioned that case numbers
should be carefully watched in the
“We need a more nuanced approach.
That could prove the path for New
Zealand's future elimination strategy.
The government’s new orders about use
Jacinda Arden (RNZ Photo by Nathan McKinnon)
Winston Peters (RNZ Photo by Simon Rogers)
Judith Collins (RNZ Photo by Dom Thomas)
of masks in public places could lead to
relaxed physical distancing measures
on planes, trains and buses,” he told
New Zealand Herald last month.
University of Auckland Modeller
and Physicist and Te Pūnaha Matatini
Director Professor Shaun Hendy said
that although public health response
has been very effective since the first
case was detected, there is still a need
for population-wide measures to
manage the risk around the edges of
the current cluster.
“We need more time to be sure that
we have stamped out any further
chains of transmission that might still
be active, despite the best efforts of
our contact tracers,” he told the same
Professor Hendy said that Covid-19
is an elusive disease that is very hard to
manage, as had been seen through some
of the infections that occurred before
Auckland went to Level 3.
“Even something as straightforward
as sharing a bus ride or an elevator
is a risk. Our modelling suggests that
we need more time in alert level 3 in
Auckland before we can be confident
the spread is under control,” he said.
New Zealand First Leader Winston
Peters was among the first to object to
the continuance of current Alert Levels.
“There is not been a case in the South
Island since April this year and round
the rest of the country very similar
results apart from four in Tokoroa and
they were [contracted] all in Auckland.
Fake news is already hitting New
Zealand’s election campaign,
with a weekly research group
pointing to NZ Public Party and
the New Conservatives as the main
offenders so far.
Victoria University Researchers Dr
Mona Krewel and Professor Jack Vowles
have joined a project monitoring social
media during election campaigning,
identifying fake news.
Part of the challenge is to assess if
techniques such as data mining or
misinformation has intruded onto
the campaign trail here as has been
identified in some overseas elections
Dr Krewel told RNZ Morning Report’s
Corin Dann that, backed by an army
of coders, they would be publishing
findings on a weekly basis starting this
Coders and Codebook
“We have our coders and they have
a huge thing which we call a codebook
and they go through all the Facebook
posts and have a definition fake
news. We also ask the coders to fact
check, so if they are not fully sure that
something could be fake news we ask
This is costing hundreds and hundreds
of millions ... every extra week that
we’re not required to do it,” he said.
National Party Leader Judith
Collins, speaking at an education policy
announcement, described the decision
to extend the Alert Levels as “very
“We are starting to wonder very
much because we do not the same
advice that the Prime Minister has,
and she does not share it. In Auckland,
campaigning is reduced to essentially
handing out pamphlets and doing
things on social media because there are
only ten people in a room. So, it is very
tough,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that the Cabinet has
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agreed in principle that rest of New
Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 on
Monday, September 21, 2020, contingent
on contingent on cases tracking the way
they are doing so currently.
“The move will be confirmed on Monday.
The Level 2 precautions continue to
act as a safety barrier against flare-ups
for the rest of New Zealand. it has been
two weeks - one transmission cycle of
the virus - since Auckland moved to level
2.5. In that time, we have identified a
further 36 cases in the community - all
are associated with the wider Auckland
cluster and most were people who had
a known link to the cluster and so were
already isolated,” she said.
Researchers name two political parties over fake news
them to actually kind of Google this, go to
traditional media, to reliable sources like
your radio station for example, and look
if this has already been called out as fake
news,” she said.
She said that they had defined fake
news as “stories that are completely or for
the most part made up and intentionally
and verifiably false to mislead voters”.
“On the fake news half-truth side, I
would say that it is mostly the New Zealand
Public Party and New Conservatives
that engage in a little bit of that.”
Other metrics examined
Many other metrics would also be
examined, including looking at misinformation,
negative versus positive
campaigning, inclusion of Māori, and
many more things, presented in interactive
“If it is flying below the radar of fake
news ... If it is not entirely or for the most
part made up, does it still contain some
half-truths or somewhat questionable
regarding its factual accuracy,” Dr Krewel
She said that the coders are already
training and have some initial results.
“My current impression is that they
are campaigning very fair ... a little bit
of negative campaigning we are starting
She said that New Zealand was a very
different landscape than the US and
was more likely to see locally fake news
than high volumes of Russian bots and
articles created by state actors.
“It is definitely the other end ... I
would imagine that for the US and particularly
the upcoming presidential election
we would see a very high bar for
fake news and negative campaigning,
this is also due to the electoral system,
it’s a two-party system so you have a
clear antagonist who you attack, which
is different from the multi-party system.
We still see high-quality democratic
campaigning in New Zealand overall.”
Dr Krewel said this New Zealand
project was based on the Campsource
Group that had followed other elections
overseas but would be different in that
results would be published weekly
during the election campaign, instead of
The above Report has been published under
a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Researchers tell us how politicians use social media
are conducting the New
Zealand leg of an international
project to analyse how political
actors use social media to target, inform,
interact with, mobilise and pursue
voters in elections.
Focusing on the final four weeks of
the 2020 New Zealand general election
campaign, Dr Mona Krewel and Professor
Jack Vowles from the University’s
Political Science and International
Relations programme will be making
their New Zealand Social Media Study
findings and accompanying commentary
available for free republication
by media and others under Creative
Dr Krewel, Professor Vowles and
the team they lead will publish weekly
findings from their content analysis of
Dr Mona Krewel
the most salient campaign topics, the
dominant political actors in the parties’
campaigns and their campaigning
strategies on social media.
The data will expand each week, with
one week’s worth published the first
week, two weeks’ worth the second,
and so on, becoming more statistically
substantial as the project proceeds.
Professor Jack Vowles
“The New Zealand Social Media
Study allows us to make evidence-based
contributions to debates about the
quality of democratic discourse in
the general election. The impact of
digitisation on campaigns around the
world is still growing; orchestrated
operations by social media bots and
fake news are increasing. Meanwhile,
many citizens live in closed social media
filter bubbles and echo chambers, with
massive implications for democratic
discourse. This has led many scholars to
proclaim we live in an age of post-truth
campaigning,” Dr Krewel said.
She said that the project was initiated
during the 2019 European Parliamentary
election, when political scientists from
12 countries analysed the internet and
social media campaigns of mainstream
and niche parties to detect general patterns
and trends across countries, while
also identifying national idiosyncrasies.
“The original team is now looking
to increase their country sample and
continue the project globally under the
title Digital Election Campaigning Worldwide
(DigiWorld). They approached
us to join and we didn’t hesitate to say
yes, recognising the importance of this
research,” Dr Krewel said.
Professor Vowles said that shaped
by the experience of COVID-19, New
Zealand’s 2020 general election will be
New Zealand labels mass murderer terrorist
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
has announced the offender
responsible for the Christchurch
terror attack on March 15, 2019
has been designated as a terrorist
The issued the following Statement
on September 1, 2020:
Designating the offender is an important
demonstration of New Zealand’s
condemnation of terrorism and violent
extremism in all forms.
A designation under New Zealand
legislation freezes the assets of terrorist
entities and makes it a criminal offence
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
to participate in or support the activities
of the designated terrorist entity.
This designation ensures the offender
cannot be involved in the financing of
terrorism in the future.
Obligation as a country
We have an obligation to New
Zealand and to the wider international
community to prevent the financing of
There are currently 20 terrorist
entities designated under New Zealand
law, including this offender.
Under Section 22 of the Terrorism
Suppression Act 2002, the Prime
Minister may designate individuals or
groups as terrorist entities, on advice
Details of the designations process
and the statements of case supporting
designation of these entities can be
found on the New Zealand Police
Tarrant carried out the Mosque
attacks in Christchurch on March 15,
He was sentenced to life in prison
without the possibility of ever leaving
The 29-year-old terrorist had earlier
admitted 51 charges of murder, 40
charges of attempted murder and one
charge of terrorism.
Justice Cameron Mander imposed
like no other before it.
“We have already seen examples of
‘fake news’, sometimes even communicated
by politicians and the mainstream
media. Monitoring the parties’ social
media communications, we hope to
confirm that, for the most part, they will
campaign responsibly,” he said.
Voting for the general election will
open on Saturday, October 3 and will
close on October 17, 2020.
The New Zealand Social Media Study
findings and commentary will be
available at www.wgtn.ac.nz/election
Friday, October 2, 2020¨ (data from
17–23 September covering one week)
Friday October 9, 2020: (data from
17–30 September covering two weeks)
Friday October 16, 2020: (data from
17 September–7 October covering three
Monday, October 26, 2020: (data from
17 September–17 October covering four
the sentence - the harshest available to
It marked the first time a convicted
person has ever been imprisoned with
no possibility of parole.
Tarrant murdered 51 worshippers at
Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic
Centre in Christchurch on March 15,
He also shot and injured 40 more in
an attempt to murder them.
Tarrant was also sentenced to life
imprisonment on one count of engaging
in a terrorist act.
It marked the first time anyone was
sentenced for offending under the
Terrorism Suppression Act.
The terrorist did not oppose being
jailed without the possibility of parole.
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Visa extension helps onshore and offshore migrants
Foreigners holding Residency
Visas stranded overseas
can have a sigh of relief
since their validity has been
extended by 12 months.
Immigration Minister Kris
Faafoi has said that Visas that
are about to expire will be extended
for another year, while
those that expired on or after
February 2, 2020 (the day on
which travel restrictions began)
will be extended for 12 months
from the date of expiry.
Facilitating new arrivals
The move is to facilitate new
migrants unable to arrive in
New Zealand to validate their
residence status, required under
the Immigration New Zealand
“The government understands
the uncertainty that
Covid-19 has had on a number
of visa holders, particularly
individuals overseas who have
not been able to travel to New
Zealand to activate their new
resident visa, or who have
been unable to return to New
Zealand before their travel
conditions expired,” Mr Faafoi
He said that he has exercised
the powers vested in him as
Immigration Minister to make
“These changes will provide
around 5600 resident visa holders,
who have invested a lot of
time and money to be granted a
resident visa, with more certainty
about their ability to come
and settle in New Zealand in the
future. The government recognises
that these individuals have
recently met the requirements
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi
to be granted residence. If not
for border closures forced by the
Covid-19 pandemic, they would
be living in New Zealand and
contributing to our team of five
million,” Mr Faafoi said.
Covid-19 raules still apply
People will be able to travel
to New Zealand only if they are
exempt from the current border
restrictions or have been granted
Mr Faafoi said that the extension
of visa validity did not mean
that people are now exempt from
the current border restrictions.
“It has been important to run
tight border restrictions to keep
Covid-19 contained while also
prioritising the return of New
Zealanders. But we are now able
to start making some adjustments
to immigration settings which will
allow people who, under normal
circumstances, have the right to
come to New Zealand to know
that will still be possible,” he said.
Temporary Visa holders
In an earlier announcement
(On September 4, 2020), Mr Faafoi
had said that visitors and other
temporary visa holders including
international students can continue
to stay in New Zealand.
The changes announced by
him included automatic extension
of current onshore visitor
visas that are due to expire before
the end of October 2020 for
five-months and introduction
of a new two-month Covid-19
short-term visitor visa to help
temporary migrants who are
unable to leave New Zealand
due to international travel
restrictions when their current
The changes only apply to
people already in New Zealand
but does not include overstayers
whose visas expired before the
spread of Covid-19 in March
Mr Faafoi said that temporary
migrants should have a valid
visa to remain lawfully in New
Zealand; otherwise they are
required to leave the country.
“However, we know that
international travel restrictions
due to Covid-19 have affected
many people’s ability to leave
New Zealand before their visas
expire,” he said.
Mr Faafoi hoped that the
changes will provide visitors
and other temporary migrants
stranded in New Zealand with
more certainty and time to
organise travel arrangements
Temporary migrants by
There are about 19,000
people in New Zealand holding
current visitor visas that are
eligible for the automatic fivemonth
extension from the date
of expiry of their visas.
Since March 2020, about
268,000 foreign nationals have
departed New Zealand.
Mr Faafoi said that in addition
to the automatic extension
for visitor visa holders, the
new two-month Covid-19
short-term visitor visa will
help people reaching the end
of their current visitor, work,
student or partnership visa.
These people may not meet
the criteria for another visa,
but need time to arrange travel
“To be eligible for the Covid-19
short-term visitor visa,
Immigration New Zealand
must be satisfied that visitor
visa holders are genuinely
unable to leave New Zealand
as a result of Covid-19, they are
intending to depart, and they
meet normal good character
requirements,” he said.
migrants who choose to apply
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for the Covid-19 short-term
visitor visa will not need
to meet other usual visitor
visa requirements, such as
demonstrating that they have
enough money to support their
stay, having existing onward
travel arrangements, or that
they have met time-limits for
their stay in New Zealand.
“These are short-term,
practical measures that are designed
to help people remain
lawful in New Zealand while
they get their travel home
organised,” Mr Faafoi said.
Further details will be
available on Immigration New
Zealand website later this
Concessions to date
These changes build on
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other changes made by the
Minister of Immigration using
his new powers under the Act,
including (a) extending by six
months onshore temporary
work visas and those of their
families due to expire by the
end of 2020 benefitting about
16,500 workers and their
families (b) extending onshore
visitor visas that were due to
expire before the end of October
2020 for five-months (c)
extending Recognised Seasonal
Employer scheme (RSE) visas
by six months for workers
who are still in New Zealand
and unable to return home
and (d) allowing more flexible
hours and roles for those RSE
workers still in
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Religious transformation witnesses rebirth of temperate Iran
Pooyan Tamimi Arab and Ammar Maleki
Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was
a defining event that changed how
we think about the relationship
between religion and modernity.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s mass
mobilisation of Islam showed that
modernisation by no means implies a
linear process of religious decline.
Reliable large-scale data on Iranians’
post-Revolutionary religious beliefs,
however, has always been lacking.
Over the years, research and waves
of protests and crackdowns indicated
massive disappointment among
Iranians with their political system.
This steadily turned into a deeply felt
disillusionment with institutional
In June 2020, our research institute,
the Group for Analysing and Measuring
Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN),
conducted an online survey with the
collaboration of Ladan Boroumand,
Co-Founder of the Abdorrahman
Boroumand Center for Human Rights
The results verify Iranian society’s
Reaching Iranians online
Iran’s census claims that 99.5% of
the population are Muslim, a figure
that hides the State’s active hostility
toward irreligiosity, conversion and
unrecognised religious minorities.
Iranians live with an ever-present
fear of retribution for speaking against
Tehran’s Azadi Tower was finished in 1971. Five decades later, Iranians
increasingly embrace secular values
(Picture for EPA by Abedin Taherkenareh)
In Iran, one cannot simply call people or knock on doors
seeking answers to politically sensitive questions. That is why
the anonymity of digital surveys offers an opportunity to
capture what Iranians really think about religion.
Since the Revolution, literacy rates have risen sharply,
and the urban population has grown substantially. Levels
of internet penetration in Iran are comparable to those in
Italy, with around 60 million users and the number grows
relentlessly: 70% of adults are members of at least one social
For our survey on religious belief in Iran, we targeted
diverse digital channels after analysing which groups showed
lower participation rates in our previous large-scale surveys.
Reaching the masses
The link to the survey was shared by Kurdish, Arab, Sufi
and other networks. And our research assistant successfully
convinced Shia pro-regime channels to spread it among their
We reached mass audiences by sharing the survey on
Instagram pages and Telegram channels, some of which had a
few million followers.
After cleaning our data, we were left with a sample of
almost 40,000 Iranians living in Iran.
The sample was weighted and balanced to the target
population of literate Iranians aged above 19, using five
demographic variables and voting behaviour in the 2017
A secular and diverse Iran
Our results reveal dramatic
changes in Iranian religiosity,
with an increase in secularisation
and a diversity of faiths
and beliefs. Compared with
Iran’s 99.5% census figure, we
found that only 40% identified
In contrast with state propaganda
that portrays Iran as a
Shia nation, only 32% explicitly
identified as such, while 5%
said they were Sunni Muslim
and 3% Sufi Muslim.
Another 9% said that they
were atheists, along with
7% who prefer the label of
Among the other selected
religions, 8% said they were
Zoroastrians, which we interpret
as a reflection of Persian
nationalism and a desire for
an alternative to Islam, rather
than strict adherence to the
Zoroastrian faith – while 1.5%
said they were Christian.
Most Iranians, 78%, believe
in God, but only 37% believe in
life after death and only 30%
believe in heaven and hell. In
line with other anthropological
research, a quarter of our
respondents said they believed
in jinns or genies.
Around 20% said that they
did not believe in any of the
options, including God.
These numbers demonstrate
that a general process of secularisation,
known to encourage
religious diversity, is taking
place in Iran.
An overwhelming majority,
90%, described themselves
as hailing from believing or
practising religious families.
Yet 47% reported losing their
religion in their lifetime, and
6% said they changed from one
religious orientation to another.
Younger people reported
higher levels of irreligiosity and
conversion to Christianity than
A third said they occasionally
drank alcohol in a country that
legally enforces temperance.
Over 60% said that they did
not perform the obligatory
Muslim daily prayers, synchronous
with a 2020 state-backed
poll in which 60% reported
not observing the fast during
Ramadan (the majority due to
In comparison, in a comprehensive
in 1975 before the Islamic
Revolution, over 80% said they
always prayed and observed
Religion and Legislation
We found that societal
secularisation was also
linked to a critical view of the
religious governance system:
68% agreed that religious
prescriptions should be excluded
from legislation, even if
believers hold a parliamentary
majority, and 72% opposed the
law mandating all women wear
the hijab, the Islamic veil.
Iranians also harbour illiberal
secularist opinions regarding
religious diversity: 43% said
that no religions should have
the right to proselytise in
public. However, 41% believed
that every religion should be
able to manifest in public.
Four decades ago, the
Islamic Revolution taught
sociologists that European-style
secularisation is not followed
universally around the world.
The subsequent secularisation
of Iran confirmed by our survey
demonstrates that Europe
is not exceptional either, but
rather part of complex, global
interactions between religious
and secular forces.
Other research on population
growth, whose decline has
been linked to higher levels of
secularisation, also suggests a
decline in religiosity in Iran.
In 2020, Iran recorded its
lowest population growth,
Greater access to the world
via the internet, but also
through interactions with the
global Iranian diaspora in the
past 50 years, has generated
new communities and forms of
religious experience inside the
country. A future disentangling
of state power and religious authority
would likely exacerbate
these societal transformations.
Iran as we think we know it
is changing, in fundamental
Pooyan Tamimi Arab is Assistant
Professor of Religious Studies at
Utrecht University, while Ammar
Maleki is Assistant Professor, Public
Law and Governance at Tilburg
University in The Netherlands. The
above article and pictures have
been published under Creative
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Labour proposes public
holiday to mark Matariki
Matariki will be celebrated
as a public
holiday from 2022
if Labour Party
is returned to govern in the
forthcoming general election,
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
She said that Matariki
will become the 12th public
holiday in a year, ‘far less
compared to some other OECD
countries,’ and celebrate ‘what
is unique to New Zealand.’
Matariki marks the Maori
New Year since Maori follow
lunar calendar, it is a movable
However, it usually falls
between May and June.
Ms Ardern said that a group
of experts will determine
the exact date for the Winter
holiday will be decided by a
group of experts.
“But it will always be on
a Friday or a Monday,” Ms
She said that the annual holiday
will commence in 2022,
to give time for businesses
to recover from the adverse
effect of Covid-19.
Time for reflection
“As I have travelled around
New Zealand, I have heard the
calls for Matariki to become
a public holiday and its time
has come. It will also be a
confidence boost that many
sectors need right now. Matariki
will be a distinctly New
Labour Party Leader and
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Zealand holiday and a time for
reflection, celebration and to
look to the future as we take
increasing pride in our unique
national identity,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that New
Zealand does not have many
statutory holidays compared to
other OECD countries.
Labour Party Deputy Leader
and Tourism Minister Kelvin
Davis said that a new holiday
will help to boost domestic
tourism and hospitality
sector as New Zealanders plan
It will also allow the tourism
industry to market Matariki
globally to international
travellers as a uniquely New
Zealand winter experience in
years to come, he said.
Sharing a unique tradition
“Celebrating Matariki every
year will give Māori a chance
to share our unique traditions,
our history and our stories
with the rest of New Zealand.
Matariki means many things
to many people but for me it
will always be a day where
I will reflect on how far we
Labour Party Deputy Leader and
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis
have come as a country and be
proud,” Mr Davis said.
He said that making New
Zealand history compulsory in
schools, support for land wars
commemoration and unveiling
a statue to acknowledge Dame
Whina Cooper have all helped
to give a voice to a history,
people and culture.
“None of our current public
holidays recognises Maori
culture and tradition. Making
Matariki a public holiday is
another step forward in our
partnership as a people and
a further recognition of te ao
Māori in our public life. It is
important to acknowledge that
Covid-19 has had a significant
impact on businesses and
public holidays can create
additional costs, which is why
it wouldn’t come into force
until 2022. We will work with
Matariki experts to design and
determine the appropriate
dates for the public holiday,”
Mr Davis said.
The last public holiday
introduced was Waitangi Day
nearly 50 years ago.
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Two polarising issues are coming for your decision
In less than seven weeks, New Zealanders
will vote on two polarising
issues in referendums, held at the
same time as this year’s general
But how much do you really know
about the issues at play? How familiar
are you with the End of Life Choice
Act and the Cannabis Legalisation and
And importantly, is it “referenda” or
According to Victoria University
Emeritus Professor of Classics Arthur
Pomeroy, it is Referendums.
In today’s episode of ‘The Detail,’
Emile Donovan speaks to Journalist
Caralise Trayes and Researcher Dr Marta
Rychert about the two referendums
this year, and what they could mean
for the future of cannabis and assisted
dying in New Zealand.
Binding and Non-binding
The Assisted Dying Referendum is
binding. The Cannabis Referendum is
Act Leader David Seymour: Author of ‘The End of
Life Choice Bill: Picture Phil Smith ©VNP
This means the legislation pertaining
to Assisted Dying is all ready to go it has
been passed through parliament and
approved by a majority of MPs.
The only question is whether the
country wants to sign off on it.
The Cannabis Referendum, on the
other hand, is non-binding: even if
99% of the population vote in favour,
the governing party or parties could,
theoretically, decide not to implement
it - though doing so would be politically
Also the Cannabis Legislation has not
yet been finalised: it is still a bill, and in
order to become an Act, it still needs to
pass through the Parliamentary process:
three readings in the House where
issues can be raised and debated, and
a Select Committee process where the
public can make submissions and raise
Booking on Assisted Dying
Freelance Journalist Caralise Trayes
has written a book about the Assisted
Dying Referendum called ‘The Final
She said that there are still blind spots
in many people’s understanding of the
“Refusing treatment and ‘do not
resuscitate’ orders require medical
professionals not to intervene in what is
naturally occurring. These are already
legal. Euthanasia, assisted suicide
or assisted dying requires a direct
intervention with the intention to bring
death. First up, you have to be eligible:
you have to be over 18, you have to be
a Kiwi citizen or permanent resident.
You have to have a prognosis with less
than six months to live. You must have
an ongoing decline in physical capability
and experience unbearable suffering
which cannot be eased. You also need
to be able to make an informed decision
about dying,” she said.
Six months prognosis
A prognosis of six months or less to
live would be made by a doctor - but
making that judgment in the first place
can be fraught.
“We are using this as such a strong,
defining factor ... but it is not always
accurate. There have been cases where
doctors get prognoses very wrong,” Ms
According to him, any mental
health issues a person has would not
be factored into whether a person’s
application was granted.
Parasocial relationship on social media endears Ardern
ora, everyone. I am
standing against a blank
wall in my house – because
it is the only view in my
house that is not messy.”
So begins a 2020 campaign message
posted by New Zealand Prime Minister
She speaks directly into her phone at
day’s end, in a comfortable sweatshirt
and with tousled hair, inviting Instagram
viewers into her home as she lays out
plans for the week ahead.
Candid and humorous
Voters and fans view her message
from their own phones and smart
devices: just over 22% of her 1.4 million
Instagram followers watched the
She is candid, approachable, tired and
Facing a resurgence of Covid-19 just
days later, the tone changes to one of
But the approach is the same in a
13-minute Facebook livestream, during
which 34% of her 1.3 million followers
on their devices.
In the run-up to the October 17
election, Ardern’s Facebook following
alone is four times greater than those
of the other seven main Party leaders
Politician or not, this makes her a
serious influencer by anyone’s metrics.
A natural communicator
While the Opposition Leader’s
Nightly livestream on Facebook has millions of
followers for Jacinda Ardern
Her simple, direct message attracts attention-Jacinda
Ardern at Labour Campaign 2020 Launch at Townhall,
Auckland on August 10, 2020
husband has recently been feeling the
heat for his anti-Ardern Facebook posts,
Ms Ardern’s own activity is almost
It has been that way since she
began turning up regularly on live
after-dinner Facebook feeds not long
after becoming Labour leader seven
weeks out from the 2017 election.
Her organic appeal and clear comfort
with the format helped her own the
James Shaw entraps himself in embarrassment
Green Party Co-Leader
still faces trouble
At least 44 infrastructure
projects and $600
million in government
funding were awaiting
approval when Greens co-leader
James Shaw put his foot down on
funding for a private Taranaki
Mr Shaw has been hit by a
wave of controversy, after he
championed nearly $12m in
funding for the private Green
The school was only included
in Ministers’ list of ‘Shovel Ready’
projects after Mr Shaw refused to
back other projects without it.
Finance Minister Grant
Robertson said that when the
email was sent on August 7, 2020,
Mr Shaw needed to sign off on
the final list.
Shovel Ready Projects
“We had already announced
a large number of projects.
We were at the end of the
process and there was a bit of
coming and going with projects.
Therefore, obviously that email
said what it said, but we had
announced a large number of
projects before that point,” he
Greens Co-Leader James Shaw
(RNZ Photo by Samuel Rillstone)
As of the August 6, 2020, the
government had announced 118
shovel ready projects had already
been announced, totalling $1.8
billion in government funding.
But, by the 28 August a
list of 162 projects had been
announced, meaning that at
least 44 projects were awaiting
government approval when
Shaw drew a line in the sand
with his email.
On Tuesday (September 1,
2020), Shaw apologised for an
‘error of judgement’ over the
National Party accusation
But National Party Leader
Judith Collins is accusing Mr
Shaw of political posturing
during a crisis.
“James Shaw was willing to
play politics with his own government
at a time when contractors,
councils and workers were crying
out for work, I actually think that
he has put at risk people’s jobs,”
Ms Collins has said that she
thinks Mr Shaw should resign
over the mistake.
“It is not just that he advocated
for a particular Green School that
does not even have education
registration to be a school, but
that he has actually held up
all these projects on the basis
that he was holding the rest of
the government basically to
ransom,” she said.
Background to the issue
Mr Shaw, also Associate
Finance Minister, received
backlash after he and other
ministers signed off on $11.7
million to allow the Green School
“I want you to know that I
have taken the time to reflect on
your concerns and I am acting on
them. Every dollar invested is a
dollar to create jobs,” he told to
critics of the funding.
He said that he saw an opportunity
to employ hundreds of
people in an area most affected
by the government’s decision to
The above Report and Picture have
been published under a Special
Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
By the time she was in Office, she
spoke to Kiwis like an old friend, using
the one-way (Parasocial) relationship
with her audience to speak seemingly off
the cuff about the day’s events and what
she was thinking.
She is ostensibly unfiltered – tired, often
laughing, but above all in command
and with creative control over what she
posts, shares and shows.
This alone helps boost perceptions of
her authenticity and expertise.
Ms Ardern joins a continuum of
media-age communicators who came
to define their political brands via their
US President Franklin Roosevelt used
his radio “fireside chats” in the 1930s
and 1940s to explain policy to Americans.
By the 1960s John F Kennedy had
emerged as the original TV President
after the first ever televised debate (with
In New Zealand, Robert Muldoon was
the first politician to master the art of
The digital fireside chat
Now, in the digital age, the pace of
communication and reach of social
media platforms have created the first
Twitter President: Donald Trump’s
tweets are considered official statements,
with more than 11,000 posted
from his inauguration in 2017 to the end
In 2020, social media are not simply
useful political channels (more than
600,000 New Zealanders follow a party
account), they are a major electoral
Ms Ardern knows this. She is a prolific
poster, with quick and informal videos
(typically one to five minutes long)
making up 81% of her 20 unique posts in
a single week in August.
Facebook sits at the heart of her
outreach and messaging. Voters, citizens,
foreign observers and fans mingle in the
comments section, with the general tone
being positive and supportive of her
Engagement is everything
The key metric is engagement – the
currency of the social media influencer
Engagement is calculated by dividing
the total number of interactions (likes,
shares and comments) a post receives by
the total number of followers.
Good rates for mega-influencers
(those with more than a million followers)
on Facebook typically range from
.01% to .42%. Rates on Instagram can be
as high as 12% for celebrity names such
as Taika Waititi.
Analysis of a seven-day period in
August, which spanned the Labour Party
campaign launch, Parliament rising, the
resurgence of Covid-19 and subsequent
new lockdowns, shows the range and
depth of Ardern’s political influence
Her Facebook livestream videos –
broadcast live but available to watch
and comment on later – had an average
1.83% engagement rate on campaign
Meanwhile, the Cannabis Legalisation
and Control Bill has a straightforward
premise, Dr Marta Rychert of Massey
“The main premise is that the bill
proposes to legalise use, possession and
sale of cannabis. People aged 20 and
over - it would be legal for them to use,
possess, and buy cannabis from licensed
suppliers,” she said.
Some grey areas
Dr Rychert said that the legislation
still has many grey areas. For example,
how it deals with the idea of advertising
marijuana, in an age where marketing
and promotion stretch much further
than TV screens or radio adverts.
She said it also needs to clarify the
social equity components, to help ensure
people and communities who’ve been
historically disadvantaged by cannabis
criminalisation can be involved with the
The above Report and Picture have been
published under a Special Arrangement with
and policy topics and 3.5% on Covid
Disarming and relatable
Ms Ardern is disarming, comfortable
and relatable – all key traits that our
research suggests increase perceptions
of authenticity and expertise.
Her engagement puts her on par with,
or ahead of, other prolific celebrities
such as Rachel Hunter (who also nets a
1.8% engagement for her average of 15
posts a week).
On-brand and on-message
One five-minute Facebook livestream,
posted just before dinnertime on the
Saturday of the Labour Party’s campaign
launch, gives a taste:
“Hi everyone, I am sneaking a quick
moment while I can hear Neve distracted
in the sandpit,” Ms Ardern begins
(referring to her two-year-old daughter).
As she outlines policy, those watching
post heart and thumbs-up emojis, ask
questions and talk to one another.
The post has a 2.3% engagement rate.
It may be a long way from Trump’s
high-pitched, angry use of Twitter, but it
is just as brand-aware and on-message.
The New Zealand Prime Minister is
rare in the sense that she is a highly
visible social media celebrity as well as a
political leader. But at 40 she is also not
getting any younger.
If Donald J Trump is the first Twitter
President and Jacinda Ardern the first
Facebook Prime Minister, it is probably
time to ask who will be the first TikTok
Sommer Kapitan is Senior Lecturer in Marketing
at Auckland University of Technology.
The above article and pictures have been
published under Creative Commons Licence.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Electoral war brings the best and worst of parties
We are only a few days
into the election campaign
second time around, but
already some things have
become clear about the campaigns likely
to be waged by the various parties.
For Labour, the plan is straightforward
and basic. As the lead Party of the
incumbent government, its campaign
is based very much around business
as usual and making sure nothing goes
wrong over the next five weeks until
The Covid influence
Covid-19 will continue to be an influence,
both in terms of the government’s
day-to-day management of the lingering
and recurring outbreaks, and also the
reminder of how well things went
during the full-scale lockdowns a little
earlier in the year. Not unreasonably,
Labour will seek to bask in the reflected
glory of that and the Prime Minister’s
popularity for as long as possible.
That will be a gentle and soft image,
almost impossible for the National
Party to try to campaign against without
looking snarly or churlish.
Such policy announcements as
Labour makes between now and the
election will attempt to replicate that
wholesome flavour. So, this week we
have seen a promise to extend loans to
small businesses affected by Covid-19
for a further three years (two of which
will be interest-free); a new public holiday
to mark Matariki, and an increase
in the top tax rate for those earning over
Indeed, the tax rate increase underpins
Labour’s determination to appear
James Shaw, Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters, Marama Davidson, Judith Collins, David Seymour
(AAP Conversation through The Conversation)
as nice and innocuous as possible. Why
else announce a tax policy which in
their own words will not affect 98%
of taxpayers, and will raise only $550
million a year when the estimated cost
of the Covid-19-induced recession is
likely to be in the range of $140 billion
over coming decades?
The tax hike will hardly have any
impact on Covid-19 recession recovery.
Instead, it is but the merest of drops in
the tax bucket more designed to virtue
signal Labour’s concern about the gap
between the rich and the poor, without
otherwise upsetting the apple cart too
And that looks being Labour’s policy
pattern for the rest of the campaign.
At a time when people are still scared
about Covid-19 and are seeking comfort
and reassurance, such a softly-softly
approach may well be all it will take to
secure Labour the outright majority no
party has achieved since the advent of
National’s Policy based campaign
National, on the other hand, seems
to have opted for a more policy-based
Where they see Labour as deliberately
fluffy and vague, National sees itself
providing the contrast by promoting
Scene set for addressing challenges of the youth
Dr Rowan Light
As the Covid-19 pandemic grinds
on, we must attend to the needs
of our young people, our taiohi.
“Taiohi” in te reo Māori comes
from the term “tai,” referring, in one
sense, to the turning of the tide.
This meaning captures the ways in
which young people are defined by
change: a process of “becoming” full
members of their community and
society through new experiences,
relationships, further education, and
Youngsters losing the tide
What happens when young people
“miss the tide” and lose these transitions
School-to-work pathways have
become increasingly fragmented over
the last few generations and young
people face more temporary, limited,
and precarious work than ever before.
‘Covid-19 is wreaking havoc with
these opportunities even further: the
UN’s International Labour Organisation
warns of a “lockdown generation” currently
experiencing a “triple shock” – the
virus destroying employment prospects,
disrupting education and training, and
putting obstacles in the way of taiohi.
The cost and impact
The impact and costs of this
fragmenting world of work is evident in
New Zealand’s persistent rate of young
people not in employment, education, or
Our youth NEET rate sat at around
69,000 young people towards the end of
2019. Māori and Pasifika communities
are over-represented in our NEET rate.
Most concerning is increasing
numbers of “long-term” NEETs, those
stuck in patterns of NEET for six months
or longer around 10% of this total. Data
from the June 2020 quarter suggests, we
were already starting to see a spike in
these statistics, one that is likely to get
worse before it gets better.
Disengagement from work can
wreak economic, social, and personal
Economically, youth NEET lose
productivity and earnings overtime.
Socially, they also lose workplaces to
build relationships that are crucial to
future employment. “Work readiness”
is not just about the scripts and skills of
a workplace; it is the myriad unspoken
habits and attitudes we absorb as an
employee, which you cannot get from
This has personal implications: NEET
disengagement becomes a vicious cycle
of failure and social stigma. Policies
aimed at “booting lazy youth off the
couch” might make for good populist
rhetoric, but it does not actually get at
the complexity of the lived experience of
our taiohi who face these compounding
Will-power is not enough in this policy
space, as University of Pennsylvania Professor
of Psychology Tess Wilkinson-Ryan
points out. Instead, our first response
has to be to take on the challenge of
helping those who are disengaged from
employment as a responsibility for
all New Zealanders. Solutions require
an intergenerational approach to the
“world of work” our young people must
enter, drawing together whānau and the
other “moving parts” of a young person’s
life, such as educators, agencies, and
“Catching the tide” means, on the
one hand, seeing young people at a
crucial stage of their life when they need
support not opprobrium.
On the other, it also means that the
challenges of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic
are an opportunity to look afresh
at the needs of young New Zealanders,
and craft policy and act decisively for
Dr Rowan Light is a Researcher at the Maxim
Institute in Auckland.
real policies to solve real problems. To
that end, there have been big policy
announcements this week about a
renewed methamphetamine treatment
and rehabilitation strategy; a major
roading reconstruction programme and
the upgrading of Hawkes Bay Hospital.
All are substantial, but each has
the air about it of being the type of
announcement a government already in
office might make, rather than a party
seeking to win office.
In contrast to Labour, National is
clearly aiming to present itself as the
Party that understands the process of
government, and how to meet critical
Hence its emphasis so far on solid,
achievable projects and programmes
over what it characterises as Labour’s
more superficial approach. However,
it has all the early signs of simply being
the wrong campaign for the country’s
While the needs National is
identifying are undoubtedly important
and deserving of attention, they miss
the boat in terms of where the public is
With people still seeming frightened
by the Covid-19 experience, Labour’s
metaphorical offer of a warm cuddle
and some soothing words looks more
appealing and credible, given the Prime
Minister’s approach, than National’s
more business-like, no-nonsense back-tonormal
Green gets derailed
The Greens’ campaign has been
seriously derailed by the Taranaki Green
School funding row.
Just like 2017, when revelations
about then co-leader Metiria Turei’s less
than fulsome benefit declarations very
nearly tipped the party out of Parliament
altogether, the Greens have again been
left reeling, this time as a consequence of
current Co-Leader James Shaw’s decision
to fund a private Green School in Taranaki
to the tune of $11 million, contrary to
both the party’s and it now the appears
the government’s policies on support for
Not only do the Greens now look
once again to be struggling to keep their
heads above water, they have been left
completely on their own by their major
partner in government.
Aside from one or two perfunctory
niceties uttered by the Prime Minister,
Labour has offered little support for the
beleaguered Greens as Labour clearly
realises the prospect of its being able to
govern on its own, without the need for
the Greens is growing ever stronger.
As in 2017, this campaign for the
Greens has now become one of just
survival, rather than an occasion to try to
increase their Parliamentary strength.
NZ First charts Provincial Road
Meanwhile, New Zealand First’s early
1980s style provincial road trip continues.
Whistle-stop visits and specific local
promises designed to address local
concerns seem the order of the day, but
the overall appearance is that everyone
from the politicians, to the accompanying
media and the small groups turning out
to meet the visitors as they rush through
is just going through the motions.
There seems none of the enthusiasm
and energy that has characterised
previous New Zealand First campaigns.
Rather, there looks to be a pervasive
sense of grim foreboding and pulling up
the drawbridges as Winston Peters’ trainwreck
interview with Q&A’s Jack Tame so
That leaves ACT which at this stage
looks like being the only small party
assured of a return to Parliament. While
ACT’s resurgence is a justified tribute to
the determination and performance of
David Seymour, the question remains to
With National unlikely to get the numbers
this time to form a government, ACT
will be a small Opposition group, with
many of its likely half dozen or so new
MPs ever mindful that they are only there
because of the temporarily-parked votes
of currently disgruntled and disillusioned
National voters, likely to return home
once National gets its act together again.
Overall, at this early stage, the Prime
Minister and ACT’s David Seymour have
been the leading performers. Whereas
the Prime Minister has succeeded to date
by cleverly staying largely above the
fray, while sounding unfailingly positive,
leaving all the tough questions to her
Ministers to answer, Seymour, not Judith
Collins, has emerged as her likely foil, far
more willing to take her on directly on
matters of policy she might otherwise
prefer to avoid.
That having been said, there are just
on five weeks of campaigning to go.
While some things will not change,
with the die looking already solidly cast,
there remains the capacity for the coming
television debates to throw up surprises,
or Covid-19 to do more of its dirty work,
or other surprises, all of which could
influence the final result.
So, what has been a pretty boring and
pedestrian campaign to date could yet
show some life. However, it would not be
wise to count on that.
Peter Dunne was a Minister of the Crown under
the Labour and National-led governments from
November 2008 to September 2017. He lives in
Memes should remain harmless satire out of legislation
An expert in political satire
has said that memes
can be an incredibly
powerful tool to add to
debate, but internet users need to
be savvy about where they come
from and what kind of message
they are pushing.
Memes are jokes shared online
using text on top of pictures.
They are in the news after
David Wong-Tung, who is the
husband of National Party
Leader Judith Collins, shared a
variety that have been labelled
The memes included some
calling the Prime Minister ‘the
Incredible Sulk’, or appropriating
the language of the government’s
Covid-19 response calling on
people to ‘Unite Against Cindy-20’.
Wong-Tung also faced some
nasty memes himself, with one
depicting him as a chimpanzee.
Writer and former Labour
staffer Sarah Austen-Smith, who
holds a Master’s degree in Political
Satire, told Morning Report
memes are not all bad.
The positive side
“Generally, memes can level the
playing field between creators,
the public and the powerful. They
can actually engage people in
debate, and we have seen a wonderful
comeback of political satire
with meme culture,” she said.
The problems come when
memes begin to appeal to nasty
instincts of racism, sexism, and
“Bad memes, I think, run a risk
of eroding confidence in democracy.
We have seen that overseas.
They can be used to have the
public lose faith in democratic
institutions,” Ms Austen-Smith
Sarah Austen-Smith (IABC Annual Report)
A ‘distracted boyfriend’ meme lampooning the public’s move towards memes
Memes on Facebook
Meme pages have sprung up
on Facebook in support of all
of New Zealand’s main political
parties. Most make it clear in the
description the page is not officially
affiliated to the Party on
behalf of which it posts memes.
The most popular is the
Labour Party-based “Backing
the Kiwi Meme,” which has just
under 54,500 likes, followed by
the National Party-favouring
“National Party’s Meme Working
Group”, which has just over
A non-party-aligned page
titled “NZ swing voters against
dogmatic party affiliated memes”
has nearly likes 18,000 likes.
Ms Austen-Smith said that she
had checked in New Zealand
meme pages and noted a change in
them as the election neared.
“Last year, that content was
quite soft, it was humour and
LOLs. Now we are seeing more
article shares, hard content. That is
a deliberate engagement strategy
by those pages to get people following
with easy content and as soon
as you build that following, you
can start pushing out deliberate
“So, I suppose for me that
the takeaway is this is all very
deliberate, and people just need to
be conscious of that,” she said.
Ms Austen-Smith does not think
that legislation is much of an
“I do not think that regulation
is necessarily the way forward.
I just think that people need to
be a bit more savvy about what
we are seeing online and then
understanding that it will not be by
accident,” she said.
The above Report and Picture have
been published under a Special
Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Politicians pledge more spending with no debt repayment plan
Politicians are travelling the
length and breadth of the
country making big spending
promises, but when will the
public know if it all stacks up?
The Covid-19 response has already
cost New Zealand billions of dollars, but
political parties are still announcing
policies with hefty price tags.
Labour is accusing National of
gearing up to slash public services in
pursuit of its debt target, with National
hitting back at the vast amounts of
money being borrowed and spent by its
The campaign has roared into gear
and politicians are adjusting to the new
way of campaigning, with masks at
hand and social distancing a new, and
But what is not new this election
is the fierce debate over how each
party would spend New Zealanders’
hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and how
much more they are going to borrow.
In 2017, there was the $11.7 billion
fiscal hole accusation from National,
and the attempt by Labour to present
itself as a credible manager of the
In 2020 the shoe is on the other foot
Labour’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Green Party Co-Leader James Shaw, New Zealand
First Party Leader Winston Peters, National Party Leader Judith Collins and ACT Party Leader
David Seymour (RNZ Photo)
for Mr Robertson.
“A major political party like National
has a responsibility to say the cost of
policies that they are announcing and I
think this is the chaotic state of a Party
that has had three leaders since Covid
began, Is not sure of its policy footing,
and is putting out things that just fuel
uncertainty,” he said.
National Leader Judith Collins said
that her Party will put out a fully-costed
plan after the books are opened up for
the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal
Update (PREFU) next week.
It is not just National that should
be scrutinised for its spending, she
said, with “irresponsible government
spending loading a lot of extra debt and
cost onto small businesses.”
New Party chooses tourism
expert for Mt Roskill
The newly formed Taxpayers and
Entrepreneurs Alliance (TEA)
Party has chosen a tourism
expert as its candidate for Mt
Roskill in the ensuing general election.
Vishal Choksi, of Indian origin, will
contest in the Constituency which
features Michael Wood (Labour Party),
Dr Parmjeet Parmar (National Party)
and candidates from other Parties in a
The Mt Roskill seat has, since its
creation in 1999, been with Labour,
from 1999 to 2016 with Phil Goff and
thereafter with Mr Wood.
About Vishal Choksi
Vishal Choksi is the Chief Operating
Officer of Freedom Tourism Limited,
a tourism company that is keen to
promote New Zealand as a popular
As a tourist operator, he understands
hospitality and the art of communication
with people. His extensive
experience gained working with
various communities encourages him
to seek a career in politics as a Member
About John Hong
The Party is the brainchild of John
Hong, who was a candidate for the
post of Auckland Mayor at the local
government elections held in 2019.
Born and raised in the Fujian
Province on the South-East Coast of
China, Mr Hong has had an illustrious
scholastic career, having topped in
English to become a Lecturer in the
College of Foreign Languages at the Fujian
Normal University. Obtaining his
postgraduate qualifications in English
and American Literature, he migrated
to New Zealand in 2003 and pursued
a second postgraduate Diploma in
Translation, he acquired extensive
experience in a variety of vocations.
These include Auckland Regional
Council Communication and Engagement
(Manager), Statistics New
Zealand (Team Leader Asia),the
Southern Initiative (Inaugural Steering
Committee Member) Auckland Council
(Inaugural Member of Ethnic Panel),
Waterfront Auckland (Asia-Pacific
Mt Roskill TEA Party Candidate Vishal Choksi
Investment Advisor), Panuku (a
Council Controlled Organisation
Head of Investment and International
Relationships) New Zealand China
Trade Association (Executive), China
Engagement New Zealand Core Cities
(Member), Pigeon Mountain Primary
School (Board of Trustees).
About TEA Party
TEA Party website says that it has
been established by community
oriented, migrant friendly, taxpayer
and entrepreneur minded non-career
politicians to target the center ground
of the political landscape, contesting
the Queen or Kingmaker position in
the 2020 general elections.
“The Party hopes to form a coalition
with the largest Parliamentary party,
bringing about the positive change
Aotearoa so badly needs,” it said.
Mr Hong said that Taxpayers and Entrepreneurs
Alliance is a Party which
has a vision of community where all
are included to sit around the table for
tea and negotiate their fair share.
“Our Board and members belong
to various ethnicities and various age
groups. TEA Party has adopted the role
of guardian against racism by anyone
inside or outside of government who
would use racism and fear to gain
political power; and will seek to replace
racist politicians with fair-minded
community members,” he said.
“What I think is really important to
understand is that we cannot simply
borrow our way out of a recession,
what we need to do is build our way out
of it. A more worrying proposition if
you add in the Greens, , a prospect that
should scare the basically the bejesus
out of people, frankly,” she said.
Green Party Co-Leader James Shaw
shot back: “National are doing down
their brand when they say that they
are good fiscal managers if they cannot
even provide the electorate with proper
numbers for this election campaign.”
The accusation that the Greens are
poor economic managers was “always
a caricature,” he said during his first
media outing since having to apologise
profusely for backing nearly $12
TEA Party Leader John Hong
According to the Party website, TEA
will support (a) use of medicinal drugs
but oppose all forms of drug abuse
and drugs for recreational purposes
and support and promote (b) quality
migration including family reunion
upon meeting certain conditions (c)
lift people out of poverty and reduce
the number of people on the dole
or benefit (d) tax rebates and tax
incentives to middle-class working and
self-employed taxpayers (e) growth of
sustainable economic development
and encourage international trade (f)
more funding to the education and
health sectors including teachers,
healthcare workers and nurses (g) an
environment and society without fear
for safety and abuse, protecting the
rights of victims.
Offices in New Zealand
In its bid to represent New Zealanders
of all ethnicities at all places, the
Party has established four offices in
Auckland (Central City, North Shore,
West Auckland, East Auckland, South
Auckland, North Island), Hamilton, Rotorua,
Taupo, Hawkes Bay, Palmerston
North, Tauranga and three offices in
South Island (Christchurch, Dunedin
“We are socially democratic,
culturally diversified and fiscally
conservative,” Mr Hong said.
million of funding for the Green School.
NZ Party Plan
New Zealand First Leader Winston
Peters said that his Party also intends
to release its full spending plan and
manifesto after the pre-election update.
“The first thing you got to know, is
the latest updated information. I know
others have got all their costings out
there, now how they did that, I would
not know. But we want to wait until the
PREFU comes out, and we will know
what we are dealing with,” he said.
Dark economic cloud
Debt is another major economic
black cloud; net debt that pre-Covid-19
had 20% of the value of the economy
will hit a peak of 53.6% of GDP in 2023,
and is projected to go above 40% well
into the 2030s.
National wants to pay it back more
quickly than Labour - down to 30%
within a decade.
Mr Robertson said that means
slashing about $80 billion out of the
“What that is about is not increasing
health spending to keep up with
inflation or population increase. It is
not spending in the education sector,
to make sure that we have got the
resources for the number of children
entering the sector. So, they actually
have to be upfront about this is no free
lunch here,” he said.
‘Fiscal Child abuse’
That was dismissed by Ms Collins as
‘PR spin’ from a “Finance Minister who
does not understand that money needs
New Conservatives candidate calls for
better immigration management
New Conservative Party
Candidate in next month’s
general elections, Bernadette
Soares knows the challenges of
migrating to a new country.
Having immigrated to New Zealand
30 years ago from India, the West Harbour-based
businesswoman says that
she knows the “challenges of leaving
the country that you were brought up
in and moving to a new country.”
Soares is contesting the Upper
Harbour seat for New Conservatives.
Married with three grown-up kids, she
has been running a manufacturing and
distribution business for the last 18
“I also identify with the Indian
business community: I have finished
my Masters of Business Innovation and
Entrepreneurship in New Zealand. I
have three wonderful children who
are all grown up and therefore, I am a
wife, mother, an entrepreneur and now
a candidate for the New Conservative
Party,” she said.
Soares said that family, enterprise
and hard work are some of the core
values of being an Indian.
“And we at New Conservative believe
that strong healthy families make
strong healthy communities. These
communities contribute greatly to the
well being and economic health of a
nation. Enterprise and hard work are
core values that as Indians we hold dear
and we believe that this enterprise and
hard work must be encouraged and
rewarded,” she said.
Adverse impact of Covid-19
The 2020 general election is one of
sorts, already delayed by four weeks
due to Covid-19. The pandemic is
wreaking havoc throughout the world,
New Zealand included.
Soares agreed that Covid is a huge
challenge to all the communities
including the Indian community.
“I am aware that many of our Indian
families too have been badly affected
with job losses and many in businesses
to be borrowed, needs to be paid back.
“We are really focused on making
sure that where we borrow, we are not
just flittering around way, we are really,
really focused on making sure that we
when we borrow that we are building
for the future, as well as today,” she
Debt is also on the mind of ACT
leader David Seymour, who calls the
current pathway “fiscal child abuse.”
“I think that we have been lulled into
a false sense of security by interest rates
that are low now, but may not be in
years to come. It is people currently at
intermediate school who will have the
biggest cost from this and they do not
even know the decisions being made
for them,” he said.
Debt Destroyer Calculator
The Party’s Debt Destroyer calculator
will help people see the true impact of
various on the amount this country will
have to borrow, Mr Seymour said.
The Treasury will release PREFU on
September 16. 2020, giving an overall
predication of the how the economy
will perform, including the speed
of recovery, the numbers of people
heading for the unemployment queue
and those debt tracks.
Before that though, voters will
hear about Labour’s tax plan, to be
announced later this morning.
Jane Robertson is Political Editor at Radio
New Zealand. The above Report and Picture
have been published under a Special
Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
New Conservatives Upper Harbour Candidate
Bernadette Soares (Picture Supplied)
have been suffering the loss of
business sales dues to the lockdowns.
Our Indian students continue to face
challenges to get work visas and many
are also not getting any government
support while they have been unable
to find part time work,” she said.
Soares is also aware of the issues
that crop up for those going back to
India to get married.
The process of getting their spouse
New Zealand seems to be fraught with
hurdles and delays. A more streamline
process needs to be worked out with
Immigration New Zealand, she said.
“I believe that to start with, an
Application of Intent to marry an
overseas spouse need to be placed at
the start of the process and then if this
is set up on-line it can be constantly
updated. This will be a part of the final
application after the marriage has
taken place. This could be a good way
to take away the suspicion that the
marriage is fake,” she said.
Soares also believes that there
is need to do more for our young
families as the pressure of a western
culture and the strain of making it in
a foreign land can add pressure to the
“We need to find ways together
to protect our families as they are at
the heart of a better future for our
children in New Zealand,” she said.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Pandemic Lockdowns impact on NCEA achievements
The downturn worries Principals and Students
Some teenagers are warning that the
pandemic has ruined the school year
and the most disadvantaged students
are losing motivation and need more
Their comments come after the Education
Review Office (ERO) reported that a third of
secondary Principals it interviewed in June
and July 2020 said that students were worried
that the national lockdown earlier this
year had harmed their NCEA achievement.
They also come amid calls for further
NCEA concessions to recognise that Auckland
teenagers had been shut out of their
classrooms by two lockdowns.
Worry over tertiary courses
The group of Year 12-13 students at a
high-decile Wellington Secondary School
told RNZ that the national lockdown earlier
this year and ongoing uncertainty caused by
the pandemic had harmed their education.
Year 13 student Tokorua Turua said that
some students are now worried they would
not be able to get into tertiary courses.
“We are just on edge. We do not know if
we are going to get into these courses that
we want. I know that if I ask around my
friends, they are going to say ‘yeah, this is
probably one of my worst years in school’
just because of this huge blow to our routine
and how we go through our year. It is quite
stressful at times,” he said.
Year 12 student Sara Habib said that the
situation made her work harder but it had
the opposite effect on some of her friends.
“The pressure in a sense makes me more
willing to put in the effort and work. I also
have friends who have stopped going to
classes very often because of how quarantine
and Covid have impacted. They look at
it like ‘Oh, we have just had two months off
school, might as well just stop’,” she said.
Motivation, momentum gone
Year 13 student Yona Fernandez said some
students were coping well but others were
“There are some people who are really
feeling the pressure because they know that
they are not doing very well. Something
about the lockdown just pulled away all the
motivation, blew everyone’s momentum
away,” she said.
The government made NCEA easier this
year because of the lockdown, but a report
from the ERO said more changes might be
needed if there was a second lockdown.
That happened in Auckland and President
of Secondary Principals’ Association Steve
Hargreaves said that it cost students an extra
two-and-a-half-weeks out of the classroom
and that needed to be recognised.
“That has had a big impact on their
preparation for external exams and the
completion of some of the big portfolio
subjects. If there is no consideration, then
there is no doubt that these students will be
really disadvantaged,” he said.
Learning Recognition Credits
Mr Hargreaves said that the New Zealand
Qualifications Authority (NZQA) should
increase the number of extra ‘Learning
Recognition Credits’ Auckland schools could
award to students.
Students could get one Learning Recognition
Credit for every five they achieved up to
a maximum of 10 extra credits at level 1 and
eight at levels 2-3.
Mr Hargreaves said that Auckland
students should be allowed a further five
credits at Level 1 and four at Levels 2 and 3.
Labour List MP based in Maungakiekie
09 622 2660
Level 1 Crighton House,
100 Neilson St, Onehunga
(entrance via Galway St)
| | priyancanzlp
Authorised by Priyanca Radhakrishnan
Labour List MP, 100 Neilson St, Onehunga
RNZ Picture by Richard Tindiller
The Wellington teenagers, who spoke to
RNZ, agreed that Auckland students should get
more concessions to help them through the
But they also warned that disadvantaged
students throughout the country needed more
Year 12 student Angus Duncan said that
Learning Recognition Credits were going to
people who passed their courses, not to those
who were failing.
“They are treating everyone as equal when
it should not be like that. You should get an
advantage based on how disadvantaged you
are. The added credits, the one-for-five, was
good for the people who are on track anyway,
but for people who are not on track or are
struggling to keep up with their work it’s not
doing anything,” they said.
The government said that it would consider
whether further support was needed.
An interim report from the ERO has highlighted
problems with exhaustion and illness
among school staff following the national
lockdown this year.
The Report, based on interviews with
Principals of schools and Chairs of Boards
of Trustees from 110 schools in June and
Academic streaming in New Zealand
schools is still common, but according
to recent reports, it is also discriminatory
Also known as tracking, setting and ability
grouping, streaming has been called a systemic
barrier to Māori educational success in one
major analysis released in August 2020.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins agreed
saying, “Streaming does more harm than it does
The criticism should come as no surprise.
Decades of research has shown streaming
does not lift achievement. While it may boost
top streams a little, it usually drags down the
achievement of students in bottom streams.
Low expectations and low confidence
Given the main justification for streaming is
that it lets teachers fine-tune learning activities
to make them realistic but challenging, why
does not customised learning benefit all
Essentially, low-stream students learn more
basic material more slowly via less challenging
tasks. Students who start secondary school in
a low stream have flatter learning curves than
their top-stream peers. It becomes very difficult
for them to catch up.
For example, we have observed that lowstream
Year 9 students repetitively rounding
numbers to the nearest hundred, while their
top-stream peers grappled with challenging
One head of mathematics reflected: “There
was no real pathway for students in the bottom
class to come out of that bottom class.”
The messages that low-stream students
receive about who they are and what they are
capable of damage their self-confidence.
Self-confidence is a strong predictor of future
achievement, so streaming can turn one test
result into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Is streaming systemically racist?
Māori and Pasifika students are over-represented
in low-stream classes and therefore
experience the predictable and well-established
harmful impacts of streaming.
Understanding the difference between intent
and impact is crucial.
In the United States, for example, research
July also noted high levels of stress among
Principals, and lower levels of concern about
It said that staff wellbeing was the most
commonly cited ongoing challenge for
“Three-quarters of schools reported one
or more challenges relating to exhaustion
and sickness, teacher stress about workload,
teacher anxiety about health, or principal
stress,” the Report said.
Loss of revenue
It said that a quarter of schools were
worried about their finances due to the loss
of foreign students, fundraising income or
increased costs related to the pandemic.
Half the schools planned to focus on
students with additional learning needs who
needed help returning to classroom learning
after the lockdown.
“One in five school leaders expressed
strong concern about the effect of lockdown
on learner progress and achievement, particularly
for learners whose engagement had
been more limited. Around a third of schools
with secondary-aged learners reported that
senior students were anxious around NCEA
achievement requirements,” the Report said.
It said that the main challenges for early
childhood services included teacher stress
and increased sick-days, reduced attendance
and lack of development among children with
According to the Report, the government
should ensure that children in low-decile
schools had access to devices and internet
connections before another lockdown.
It said that if there was another lockdown,
the government might need to “take further
action to reduce anxiety in NCEA students
(including further changes to NCEA) and
John Gerritsen is Education Correspondent at Radio
New Zealand. The above Report and Picture have
been published under a Special Arrangement with
Academic streaming deemed racist
David Pomeroy, Kay-Lee Jones,
Mahdis Azarmandi and Sara Tolbert
has shown how “ability grouping was used as
a mechanism to re-segregate schools,” keeping
Black and White students separated within
the same building and subverting national
schooling integration mandates.
It is the outcome rather than any intent to do
deliberate harm that defines a practice as racist.
Expectation and attainment
In New Zealand, leading Māori education
scholars have long pointed to the correlations
between teacher expectations for Māori
students and their educational attainment in
mainstream secondary schools. Māori students
achieve highly when their teachers ensure
they are both culturally safe and academically
Of course, quality teaching improves
students’ opportunities to excel academically.
However, improving teaching for low-stream
students may still have little impact unless there
is systemic change that creates pathways for
them to advance to senior academic courses.
What are the relevant policies?
The Māori education strategy Ka Hikitia was
refreshed this year.
Its original purpose was to influence policy to
improve Māori educational success.
And yet, Māori are still experiencing the same
systemic inequities over a decade since it was
Streaming seems inconsistent with one of the
refreshed Ka Hikitia’s “outcome domains”: Te
Tangata: Māori are free from racism, discrimination,
and stigma in education.
Streaming diminishes the mana of students in
low streams because they do not see themselves
as academically able, expectations are often
low, and the stigma of belonging to an “underclass”
can remain for life.
Ka Hikitia also stresses the importance of
whānau (family) in making informed decisions
about education. But open conversations about
streaming with whānau are rare, and streaming
processes and terms can be confusing.
David Pomeroy is Lecturer in Teacher Education,
Kay-Lee Jones is Lecturer, College of Education,
(Health and Human Development), Mahdis Azarmandi
is Lecturer (School of Educational Studies and
Leadership) and Sara Tolbert is Associate Professor of
Science and Environmental Education at University of
Canterbury based in Christchurch. The above article
has been published under Creative Commons Licence.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Australia must revisit international student market
Angela Lehmann and Aasha Sriram
Covid-19 has not stopped international
education in Australia.
As of August 24, 2020, about
524,000 international students
were living among us in Australian
cities and communities. They represent
78% of all student visa holders, according
to data the Department of Home
Affairs provided to us.
These students are potential
ambassadors for Australia and our
They could help shape our country’s
reputation as a safe and welcoming
destination in the post-pandemic world
– but only if we look after them.
The numbers of students now in
Australia vary across sectors. Currently,
73% of our international higher education
students and 78% of postgraduate
research students are here. A majority
of them (78%) of our international
secondary school students are still here
The percentage is even higher for
Vocational Education and Training
(VET): 91% of the sector’s international
students are here, 159,233 in all.
Non-Award Programmes (shorter
courses that don’t lead to a degree
or diploma) and English language
programs (ELICOS) have the largest
percentages of students now offshore.
The experiences these large numbers
of students will have a direct impact on
their decisions and patterns of mobility
once borders reopen.
However, institutions and
government agencies continue to focus
on outward-looking approaches to
recovery, such as offshore recruitment
and delivery, negotiating pilot safety
corridors, and scenario planning for
the reopening of borders. The onshore
response to international education
risks being severely neglected.
International students in Australian
cities and communities are of course
talking about their situation. They are
using social media, creating blogs and
interacting constantly with families
and friends back home and around the
During the pandemic, this peer-topeer
form of marketing is heightened in
its global reach.
Our students are constantly comparing
their lives with students in both
their home countries and Australia’s
major competitor destinations.
As a result, the crisis of international
student social support is the subject of
Students and their families are
weighing up what they are going
through “here” compared to what
others are going through “there”.
Life transformed in Melbourne
Arya is a full-time postgraduate
student from India who is staying in
We spoke with Arya as a part of a
series of interviews with international
students during Covid-19.
Her dream of studying in Australia
was made possible through a combination
of a student loan, borrowing from
family, and savings after working for
two years as a journalist.
Prior to Covid-19, she relied on
part-time jobs to support herself. This
income was essential to her financial
survival in Melbourne.
The first lockdown meant she lost
both her jobs, one in hospitality and one
at her university.
As these sectors are struggling in this
crisis, her prospect of finding a new job
No Federal support
Arya is not eligible for federal
government support such as JobSeeker.
But she might be able to get Victorian
government support, including a
voucher to buy groceries and a one-off
payment of A$1,100. She can also apply
for a modest grant from her university
to cover some bills.
She has struggled to pay rent, but the
moratorium on evictions has prevented
her from becoming homeless. Her
university and local community groups
in Melbourne have also provided food
Arya’s goal was to study in Australia
at a world-class institution and solidify
her status within the upwardly mobile
middle classes in India. Her life has
been transformed into a struggle to eat,
Former Cook Islands PM dies of Covid
Dr Joe Williams, a prominent
doctor and former Prime
Minister of Cook Islands died
in an Auckland Hospital on
September 4, 2020, according to the
Ministry of Health.
The 82-year-old was admitted to the
Hospital on August 13, 2020.
His death was the second during
that week, associated to the latest
Auckland outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The Pasifika Medical Association
announced his passing, saying that he
was a well-respected and much loved
Dr Williams spent 25 years in the
Cook Islands and served as a Cabinet
Minister between 1974 and 1978
and again between 1994 1996 before
becoming Prime Minister in 1999.
As a sign of respect and remembrance
all Cook Islands flags on
government buildings were being
lowered to fly at half-mast.
Prime Minister’s tribute
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry
Puna said that his passing has caused
“Dr Joe was a pioneer on many
fronts and a man way beyond his
time. He was one of our early breed
of home-grown medical officers of
health. For thousands of our people in
New Zealand, his medical practice was
where they headed for their primary
health care,” Mr Puna said.
He said that Dr Williams would be
“E tumu rakau ruperupe teia no
te Basileia kua inga. On behalf of
the Government and people of the
Cook Islands I extend our heart-felt
condolences to Dr William’s wife Jill
and family,” he added.
A National Memorial Service will be
held after his funeral arrangements
Empty and distraught
PMA President and a nephew of Dr
Dr Joe Williams (RNZ Picture by Nick Munro)
Williams, Kiki Maoate said that the
death of Dr Williams had left the community
feeling empty and distraught.
Dr Maoate said that the immediate
family was devastated and that feeling
of sorrow had spread through the
“There will be a sense of emptiness,
there will be a sense of deep sorrow as
we go through this period but I think
at the end of the day we will look an
see what he has actually touched is
still there and we can carry the good
work that he has actually started but
he will leave a lot of distraught people
for some time,” Dr Maoate said.
He said that Dr Williams was driven,
in particular, by a love for his Cook
Dr Maoate said that the former
Prime Minister was determined to
serve his community, even well into
his advanced years.
Heritage and legacy
“There are other people communities
that he plays a significant role
but first and foremost, it is about the
people for him and that is where his
legacy really stands out. That is why, I
think that when you reflect on what he
has developed and processed through
the years and achieved, you can trace
it to his heritage and his love for the
people of the Cook Islands,” he said.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley
Bloomfield said that Dr Williams was
seen as a leading figure in the Cook
Islands medical community and would
be sadly missed.
“Our thoughts are with his family
and community at this time of loss
and grief. Today’s sad news again reinforces
the importance of our shared
vigilance against Covid-19, the very
serious consequences the virus can
carry with it, and the measures we all
need to take to stop the spread, break
any chain of transmission and prevent
deaths,” Dr Bloomfield said.
About Dr Joe Williams
Born in Aitutaki, Dr Joe Williams
went to Northland College, and
graduated from Otago Medical School
in 1960, later completing a Master
in Public Health at the University of
He was involved with the World
Health Organisation and in 2016
received the ‘WHO Award of Appreciation’
for his role in the elimination of
He was also known for his work in
the fields of eczema, prostate cancer
Most recently he had been practising
medicine in Auckland.
He received the Queen’s Service
medal in 1974 and was invested with
the ‘Companion of Queens Service
Order’ in 2011 for services to the Cook
He was awarded a Life membership
by New Zealand’s Pasifika Medical
Association in 2004 and was appointed
as Patron of the PMA in 2015.
-Published under a Special Agreement with
pay rent and avoid homelessness while
keeping her grades up.
Arya said, “It is becoming more than
an education. The question is shifting
to how students live and survive in a
global city midst a pandemic.”
Even harder in the US
Arya is in contact with friends
and fellow Indian students studying
overseas. While her situation in Melbourne
is dire, her friends in the US are
struggling every day. Arya introduced
us to Dhanya.
Dhanya, who moved to New York in
2017 to study, said that she is struggling
“despite doing everything right.” After
recently graduating and finding a job,
Dhanya lost her H1B Sponsored Visa for
skilled workers as a result of the Trump
administration’s recent freeze on visas.
“The US government has not
considered that we can’t get home,”
She reports that she and many of her
friends in similar situations have been
told they can choose to work as unpaid
No support to students
Many American states enacted a
patchwork of temporary eviction moratoriums
and the Federal Government
issued a partial ban on evictions. These
moratoriums have now largely expired,
forcing students to rely on the discretion
of landlords. As a non-citizen,
Dhanya cannot receive unemployment
benefits or a stimulus cheque.
Dhanya is unaware of any non-monetary
support from her university
or the government for international
students. There are no free meal plans,
grocery vouchers, or community-based
Despite our Melbourne-based
student living with the daily anxiety
about her finances, she is comparing
her experience relatively positively to
her friends in the US.
Students are paying attention
to countries that are including
international students and temporary
migrants in their social policy response
Arya said, “The way countries handle
this now is definitely going to impact
how students see your country as a
destination in the future.”
Eyeing European destinations
Arya and her friends are keeping
a keen eye on European destinations
such as Germany and Sweden. They
have also been impressed by Canada’s
timely support for international
students during this crisis.
It is not enough for Australia to rely
on other nations doing badly on social
welfare and support.
We need to do more than aim to receive
a comparatively “good” score on
poverty, exploitation and vulnerability
based on others doing worse.
Australia urgently needs to actively
reshape international education
market perceptions by demonstrating
that we offer not only world-class
education, but also world-class student
support. And that starts with helping
the cohort of more than half-a-million
international students who currently
call Australia home.
Angela Lehmann is Honorary Lecturer, College
of Arts and Social Sciences at Australian
National University and Aasha Sriram is
Research Assistant, Melbourne Social Equity
Institute at University of
Anxiety overcomes human
emotions midst Covid
Many New Zealanders
will be feeling anxious,
disappointed and even
angry about the return
of Covid-19 in the community.
Many of us prefer to suppress
these emotions because they are
unpleasant or we may feel under-equipped
to manage them. But
if left unrecognised and unchecked,
they will drive our behaviour.
We may act without thinking
clearly and rush to the supermarket
to stock up. We may lash out
verbally or physically at those we
see as threatening us. Or we may
fall too easily for social media posts
that give us a sense of relief, even if
we’re not sure about their accuracy.
Times of heightened anxiety are
fertile breeding grounds for conspiracy
theories, especially among
those with low levels of trust in the
Recognising emotional reaction
Research New Zealand has been
conducting regular polls of New
Zealanders since the first lockdown
in March and April. Results show
heightened levels of concern about
health, losing a job and the economy
in general. The most recent poll
also shows New Zealanders were
worried about a new outbreak.
A heightened level of worry
keeps us in a state of “flight or
fight” — the evolutionary system
that drives our response to fear. But
if we pause to notice what we’re
feeling, even correctly labelling
our emotional state can reduce the
intensity of these feelings.
The regular practice of mindfulness,
best described as deliberately
paying attention to the present
moment, has been shown to help
Image by Hasty Words from Pixabay
reduce the reactivity of our flight or
fight system. Physical activity helps
to dampen our physiological symptoms
of anxiety, and diaphragmatic
or belly breathing is a simple but
effective means of doing this.
Once we have gained some measure
of regulation of our emotional
state, we are able to engage better
our prefrontal cortex in planning,
reasoning and decision making.
Disastrous and unimaginable
Noticing what we are thinking
and saying to ourselves is a first
step and a core part of cognitive-behavioural
has a strong evidence base in the
treatment of stress and anxiety.
If we say to ourselves that this is
“disastrous” or “unmanageable,”
we may feel increasingly emotionally
overwhelmed. If we think
that “someone has exposed us to
infection,” we may feel quite angry
toward that person. In contrast,
if we recognise that this style of
thinking is not helpful, we may be
able to adopt a more balanced view
of the situation.
Dougal Sutherland is Clinical Psychologist
at the Wellington-based Victoria
University. The above article has been
published under Creative Commons
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
The English Fortnightly (Since November 1999)
ISSUE 446 | SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Let us not play
politics with Covid
Politicians have been
screaming at the
government to lift lockdown
restrictions and open up the
economy. Some of them have
even said that New Zealand
should open its borders.
The government is
understandably hesitant; for
just next door, in Australia, the
second wave of Covid-19 has
forced State governments to go
harder than before.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
is obviously in a quandary.
She is being slammed as ‘an
unreasonable leader, a control
freak and wants to capitalise
on the goodwill that they she
has earned to improve election
But fortunately, she is
made of tougher stuff. Most
Aucklanders, who have been
suffering under Lockdown
2.5 regulations for the past
four weeks, understand.
They do not want the gains
of combating Covid-19 to be
Perils of Office
Please read our frontpage
story- it contains the views of
As the Economist wrote:
Politicians in office face a far
more fundamental difficulty.
How to explain the gravity
of the moment without inculcating
disillusionment in their
leadership and, ultimately,
public despair? The remedies,
in terms of the economic
collapse caused by shutting
away much of the population,
can seem almost as dire as
the virus itself. So ingrained is
the desire to tell stories with
a happy ending that many
politicians for too long played
down how bleak prospects
were for containing the
virus—none more so than Mr
Trump who, having predicted
that case would disappear
miraculously, more recently
warned Americans, “There will
be a lot of death.”
Many have belatedly
grasped the nettle; but their
most positive messages are
not forward-looking, so
much as appeals to history,
reminding their people, “We
have survived worse before.”
Emmanuel Macron, France’s
President, was among the most
direct of national leaders in
declaring “we are at war”. But
martial language is ubiquitous,
along with the implied appeal
to past heroism.
Some good news for
migrants, at last
Immigration Minister Kris
Faafoi delivered last week
the much awaited good
news for thousands of migrants,
students and partners waiting
to join their spouses and
partners in New Zealand.
As a first step, he has
announced extension of
visas that have expired since
February this year or those
that are about to expire. It is
not known how the decision
will be communicated to
the concerned and how the
process of bringing them back
to this country will begin.
While it may take a while
before all the stranded
migrants ae able to return to
New Zealand. There are still
stumbling blocks, the foremost
of which is facilitating
from India and Fiji, the two
countries which account for
a bulk of the stranded people
onshore. These two countries
are not in the ‘visa-waiver list’
and hence needs immediate
For, it is people from
these and other South Asian
countries who have a long
history of association and
commitment to this country.
Immigration has not been
on the list of New Zealand’s
priorities thus far this year.
With Coronavirus still raging,
a return to normality will be
impossible for some time. But
like all governments, New Zealand
will also have to grapple
with an important question.
As they gradually and fitfully
open up again for tourists and
business travellers, will they
also welcome migrants?
There are emotive reasons
why Covid-19 might make
countries less willing to
accept foreigners even after
a vaccine is discovered and
the pandemic is suppressed.
People are scared, not only of
this pandemic but also of the
As well as spending their
wages, which supports
new jobs, migrants bring a
greater diversity of skills to the
workforce, allowing the labour
market as a whole to operate
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Glendowie, Auckland 1071. All material appearing here and on our web editions are the copyright
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Cannabis should be treated
and regulated as health issue
will be voting “Yes” in the
Recreational Cannabis Reform
Referendum next month, simply
because I believe that the current
law is not working, and that cannabis
should be treated as a health
issue, not a legal one, and regulated
This intention is consistent with
the comments I made in 2015 in
the foreword to New Zealand’s
“National Drug Policy, 2015 to 2020,”
that “when legislating to try and
reduce harmful behaviour we need
to ensure the rules and penalties we
implement are both proportionate
to the potential for harm and
Based on all the evidence amassed
over the years, moving to a regulated
market for the production and
distribution of cannabis used for
recreational purposes fits the above
So, it makes sense to do so.
Majority for existing status
However, all the polls so far
suggest that I will be in a minority,
with more people likely to favour
the status quo, than the move for
But regardless of whether one
supports or opposes cannabis being
legally available for recreational use,
there seems to be a near universal
point of agreement that the current
law, dating from 1975, is no longer fit
The problem that gives rise to in
the likely event of the defeat of the
Referendum is what happens next.
Does the current unsatisfactory
status quo remain unchecked, where
production and distribution of cannabis
stays in the control of criminal
gangs, and where the Police (largely)
turn a blind eye to its consumption?
Or, does the government start
to take the outmoded law more
seriously and try to enforce it,
leading to more people, disproportionately
Maori and Pasifika, being
apprehended, imprisoned, and
unnecessarily scarred for life?
Either outcome would be completely
unsatisfactory, but both are
completely possible in the event the
Referendum upholds the status quo.
While all the political parties (bar
The student loans system was
supposed to be a safe and
fair way for everyone who
seeks further education to
get the funds they need. But the
system is broken and women –
particularly mothers – are bearing
It may come as a shock to some,
but women on maternity leave in
the UK who are paying off their
student loans still accrue interest
when they are on leave.
Loan repayments stop if their
income drops below £26,575 – but
the interest does not drop.
It means that women graduates
are effectively being financially
penalised for having children.
But the motherhood penalty is
just the start of the story. Women
are already subjected to workplace
and societal inequality and suffer
most notably from the gender pay
Full-time employed women earn
on average 8% less than men for
National) have committed to upholding
the outcome of the Referendum,
even though it is non-binding, none
has stated what they would do if the
Referendum fails to pass.
Yet, in weighing up the options
between reform and the status quo,
voters are entitled to know as best
they can the implications of voting
either for or against. This includes
knowing what the politicians intend
to do if the Referendum does not
support a change in the law.
This is especially so, given the
general view that the current law
has long since ceased to be workable.
But to date no political party has
committed to moving its emphasis
to a more health and evidence-based
approach, regardless of the outcome
of the Referendum.
Critical information missing
But it is one of many key areas
where voters have not been given
full information that could be critical
to their decision to support or oppose
a change to the law.
For example, it has been said on
more than one occasion that a regulated
cannabis market could produce
a windfall of an additional $490
million a year from taxes imposed on
recreational cannabis products.
But that figure seems simply to
have been plucked out of the air.
There is no reference in any of the
official papers to the potential size of
the cannabis market from which the
tax figure has been drawn, let alone
any estimate of what the tax rate and
the retail price to recreational users
Similarly, the proposed new law’s
prohibition on the consumption of
cannabis in public places sounds
good and reassuring to those who
might be uneasy about recreational
cannabis becoming more available,
but there is no information about
how that will be enforced, or whether
it will simply be ignored, the way
the current law is.
Yet, if we do not want the Police
busily patrolling public parks and
beaches trying to sniff out recreational
cannabis users, what is the
point of even having that restriction
in the first place?
Many of us might not unreasonably
think there are likely to be more
pressing priorities for the Police to
Poorly led Campaign
One of the reasons so little
information of this type is available
to assist voters reach an informed
choice (assuming that the policymakers
even have the information in the
first place) is because the campaign
for change has been poorly led and
organised at the government end.
Normally, a responsible Minister
would be charged with overseeing
the campaign and making sure all
the relevant information was before
voters, but this has not been the case
in this instance.
Neither the Ministers of Justice nor
Health has shown any real interest in
the Referendum campaign, seemingly
leaving it all to a well-intentioned
junior MP from a government
support party to front. This is as
unreasonable as it is unfair.
Without in any way casting a
reflection upon the MP concerned,
the lack of Ministerial involvement
sends a clear message that the
government is not really all that
interested, nor sees the Referendum
as a priority. It should hardly be
surprised if voters draw a similar
A cynic might suggest that this is
all quite deliberate, that the government
is not really all that committed
to a change in the cannabis laws, and
is just going through the motions, to
keep a support party on side. What
that ignores, however, is that whatever
the outcome of the Referendum,
the current situation is unsatisfactory
and requires attention.
Service by Groups
Groups like the Drug Foundation
and the Helen Clark Foundation
are doing their best to educate
and inform the public about the
Referendum, and to debunk some of
the myths and lies being put around
by those opposed to reform about
what a vote for change will mean.
But because of the complete lack
of leadership from the centre, they
are being left to operate in a vacuum.
Over the next few weeks, whether
they like it or not, the relevant
Ministers need to step-up, and treat
the Referendum with the seriousness
that it deserves, so that voters can
make the best decisions.
Otherwise, nothing is going to
change, which, given the current
state of play, will leave us potentially
worse off than we are today – a long
way from the compassionate, proportionate,
and innovative approach
for which some of us have argued.
Peter Dunne was a Minister of the Crown
in the Labour and National-led governments
from November 2008 to September
2017. He lives in Wellington.
Call for interest freeze on student loans
Emily Yarrow and Julie Davies
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash
the same work. This means that
women are being paid thousands of
pounds less a year.
That figure is even more alarming
considering that women owe
around two-thirds of student loan
debt in the UK.
A gendered system
Graduate women on maternity in
the UK take longer to pay off their
student loans in full.
The UK government has
estimated that for students starting
university from 2006, the average
student loan debt on graduation
would take an average of 11 years
to repay for men and 16 years for
For those who started studying
from 2012, most graduates are
expected never to pay off their
loans, male or female. But research
has found that the difference in the
treatment of men and women by
the 2012 reforms is “substantial.”
The typical earnings profile of a
woman – even when compared to
a man in a similar job – means that
they tend to pay more and for a
longer period of time, in particular
through their middle working
years. In other words, women are
already paying more and the extra
interest only adds to that.
Opaque and confusing
Emily Yarrow is Lecturer in International
Human Resource Management at
the University of Portsmouth and Julie
Davies is Reader in Leadership & Development
at the Manchester Metropolitan
University. The above article has been
published under Creative Commons
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
A vital link between people, solutions and expertise.
The skills you require and people who can do it.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Despite denial, Taiwan leads the world in Covid-19 eradication
The world’s model democracy continues to suffer
Jaushieh Joseph Wu
In 2020, the world has been hit by an
unprecedented public health crisis,
with the effects of Covid-19 being
felt across every aspect of people’s
This year also marks the 75th anniversary
of the signing of the Charter
of the United Nations – the mission
statement that stands at the very heart
of the inclusive multilateralism the
world needs so much at the present
Now, more than ever, the global
community must make a concerted
effort to forge the better and more
sustainable future called for by the UN
and its Member States.
Taiwan, a willing partner
Taiwan is ready, willing and able to
be a part of these efforts.
With less than 500 confirmed cases
and seven deaths, Taiwan has defied
predictions and successfully contained
We managed this without lockdowns;
schools were only closed for two weeks
Baseball games also restarted in
April. Initially, cardboard cutouts stood
in for the crowds, but by mid-July,
games were back in full swing, attended
by as many as 10,000 spectators.
This has all come in no small part
due to Taiwan’s quick response
measures, including the establishment
crisis can trigger ruin and
catastrophe, but it can also
sometimes bring out the
best in people and nations.
More than any other country in the
world, India has shown vividly how
to creatively and resolutely harness
challenges thrown by the ongoing
coronavirus crisis to script its own
resurgence as well as contribute to
High recovery rate
Amid apocalyptic death, destruction
and dislocation unleashed by
a rampaging pandemic, India, the
world’s fifth largest economy and
an emerging global power, has
managed to keep its recovery rate
high as well as keep the fatality rate
less than 2% - one of the lowest in the
This has been achieved through
multi-pronged efforts and initiatives
by the Indian government, including
a far-sighted initiative to order a
nation-wide lockdown in the early
stage of the pandemic when there
were barely 600 cases in the country.
World is one Family
For a country of over 1.3 billion
people, managing an epidemic that
requires social distancing is an
incredibly onerous task, but on balance,
India has not only taken care of
its own people infected by the virus,
but has also complemented domestic
efforts with timely international
assistance to many countries.
This trait of empathy and solidarity
with friends and partners in the
world is deeply embedded in India’s
civilisational ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva
Kuttumbakam’ and reflects the
country’s rising reputation as a
global care-giver and first responder
in crises, in the exalted spirit of “the
world is one family.”
Taiwan is a model democracy: President Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan is an economic miracle: An imposing view of
Capital City with Taipei 101 Supertall Tower
allies, and European nations.
We have also joined forces with
like-minded democracies to explore
the development of rapid test kits,
medicines, and vaccines. Working
together for the greater good is how
the world will defeat Covid-19.
In the Declaration on the Commemoration
of the 75th Anniversary of
the United Nations, governments and
Heads of State acknowledge that only
by working together in solidarity can
we end the pandemic and effectively
tackle its consequences.
More inclusive UN
They thus pledge to make the UN
more inclusive and to leave no one
behind as the world builds back better
from the pandemic. Similarly, in
remarks at the High-level Segment of
the UN Economic and Social Council
on “Multilateralism after Covid-19:
What kind of UN do we need at the
in July, UN Secretary-General António
Guterres said that networked,
inclusive, and effective multilateralism
would aid global efforts to
promote recovery and the continued
implementation of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).
We cannot agree more.
However, this vision seems lacking
when Taiwan, one of the world’s
model democracies and a success
story in containing the current
pandemic, continues to be barred
from taking part in and exchanging
experiences and information with the
Even as the pandemic has made
the international community
acutely aware of Taiwan’s unjust and
discriminatory exclusion from the
World Health Organisation and the
UN system, the People’s Republic of
China (PRC) continues to press the UN
to use an erroneous interpretation
of the 1971 UN General Assembly
Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as the legal
basis for blocking Taiwan.
The fact is that this resolution does
not address the issue of Taiwan’s
representation in the UN, nor does it
state that Taiwan is part of the PRC.
In fact, Taiwan is not, nor has it
ever been, a part of the PRC. Our
President and legislature are directly
elected by the people of Taiwan.
Moreover, border controls instituted
during the pandemic offer further
evidence to counter the PRC’s false
claims. The UN must recognize that
only Taiwan’s democratically elected
government can represent its 23.5
million people; the PRC has no right to
speak on Taiwan’s behalf.
Not having Taiwan’s input in the
UN is a loss to the global community,
and will hamper Member States’
efforts to build back better and implement
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development in full and on time. By
drawing on its outstanding work on
the SDGs, Taiwan can help countries
recover better from the disruption
caused by the pandemic.
Our economy has proven resilient:
the Asian Development Bank forecast
that Taiwan’s economic performance
in 2020 would be the best among
the Four Asian Tigers, the only one
to show positive growth. Moreover,
many of our SDG indicators, including
gender equality, economic growth,
clean water and sanitation, reduced
inequality, and good health and
wellbeing, have reached levels
comparable to OECD countries.
Our ongoing efforts to implement
the SDGs coupled with our proven
pandemic response put Taiwan in
a much better position than most
to help the global community in
tackling the ongoing challenges facing
In fact, Taiwan has long been
assisting its partner countries in
Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin
America, and the Pacific with their
development goals in such areas as
clean energy, waste management, and
So we are already able to help;
yet we could do that much more if
given the chance to participate in UN
activities, meetings, and mechanisms.
Unfortunately, the 23.5 million people
of Taiwan are denied any access
to UN premises. Taiwanese journalists
and media outlets are also denied
accreditation to cover UN meetings.
This discriminatory policy stems
from the wrongful claims of and
pressure from an authoritarian state,
and contravenes the principle of
universality and equality upon which
the UN was founded.
“We the peoples of the United
Nations determined . . . to reaffirm
faith in fundamental human rights .
. . (and) the equal rights of men and
women and of nations large and
small,” thus begins the UN Charter.
The ideal of upholding human rights
and fundamental freedoms for all
laid out in this text must not remain
As it looks ahead to the next 75
years, it is never too late for the UN to
welcome Taiwan’s participation.
Jaushieh Joseph Wu is Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). The
above article was sent to us by Jeff Y J Liu,
Director General of Taipei Economic and
Cultural Office in Auckland.
of a Central Epidemic Command Center, the
implementation of stringent border controls
and quarantine procedures, and transparent
Helping the world fight Covid
We also took swift action to ensure an
adequate stock of medical supplies for our
world-class health care system. And after
making sure that we had enough supplies
to look after our own people, we started
providing medical equipment and supplies to
other countries in serious need.
By the end of June, Taiwan had donated
51 million surgical masks, 1.16 million N95
masks, 600,000 isolation gowns, 35,000
forehead thermometers, and other medical
materials to more than 80 countries, including
the United States, Taiwan’s diplomatic
India scripts its own destiny, challenging Covid-19
Indian Naval Ship Kesari on the country’s
Dynamic Touch: Prime Minister
India has been prompt to provide
essential drugs and medical items to
over 150 countries.
This medical assistance was provided
quietly, without any fanfare,
earning India heartfelt gratitude
and admiration of countries, big and
From US President Donald Trump
to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni,
leaders around the world have
appreciated India’s timely assistance
against a merciless pandemic.
The pandemic-related assistance
also reaffirmed India’s credentials as
the first responder to humanitarian
crises and a net security provider in
In a journey spanning over 7500
nautical miles over 55 days, Indian
Naval Ship Kesari travelled to the
Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar,
Comoros and Seychelles and deliv-
India manufactures more than 500,000 PPEs
ered assistance to India’s maritime
A part of Mission ‘SAGAR’, which
crystallises Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s vision of Security and Growth
for All in the Region (SAGAR),India’s
humanitarian assistance included
supplies of essential food items,
medicines, Ayurvedic medicines and
deployment of Medical Assistance
Teams (MAT) to Mauritius and
India also sent medical teams to
Maldives, Mauritius, Comoros and
Kuwait to support them deal with
The Covid-19 crisis has sown the
seeds of an economic renaissance
pivoted around ‘Atmanirbhar
Bharat’ that promises to revolutionise
domestic manufacturing, and
make India the hub of global supply
chains. The quest for self-reliance
has produced tangible results, with
India moving from being a net
importer of Covid-19-related medical
items to a net exporter.
Currently, India is manufacturing
over 500,000 personal protective
equipment (PPE) kits and over
300,000 N-95 masks every day. India
is playing the role as the pharmacy
of the world during the Covid-19
pandemic with its vast experience
and deep knowledge in medicine,
setting the tone for many regional
and global initiatives, observed the
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Secretary General Vladimir Norov.
Given the transnational spread
of the coronavirus pandemic, India
launched an unprecedented diplomatic
outreach to forge a coherent
global response to the crisis.
Mr Modi displayed global leadership
as he participated in various
virtual multilateral summits and
spoke to his counterparts from 61
External Affairs Minister
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar spoke to
Foreign Ministers from 77 countries.
Showcasing India’s Neighbourhood
First policy, Mr Modi hosted
a virtual conference of the leaders
of the South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
and pledged US$10 million SAARC
Emergency Fund to combat the
novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the
At the first virtual G20 summit, he
Modi underlined the imperative for
a new kind of humane globalisation,
which goes beyond economic and
financial calculations. India’s advocacy
for people-centric globalisation
was reflected the G-20’s decision
on debt service suspension for
Role at UN Security Council
The rising global stature of India
has been recognised and reaffirmed
by the international community in
many ways, especially during the
last few months of the pandemic.
India has been elected as the Chair
of the Executive Board of the World
Health Organisation (WHO) at a
time when the world is rooting for
reforming the global health body.
Underlining India’s rising global
stock, US President Donald Trump
has proposed the expansion of
the G7 grouping of the world’s
wealthiest countries to include India,
Australia, South Korea and Russia.
To cap it all, India was overwhelmingly
elected as a non-permanent
member of the powerful UN Security
Council (UNSC) for a two-year term
on June 17, 2020.
In a record of sorts, India won 184
of the 192 ballots cast in the elections
for the five non-permanent UNSC
seats. It was a vote of confidence in
India’s capability to shape the global
agenda. India’s two-year term as
a non-permanent member of the
UNSC will begin from January 1,
Positive Global Role
Setting the tone for the eighth
stint of India in the UNSC, Mr
Jaishankar underscored that India
“can play a positive global role,” in
the extraordinary situation spawned
by the pandemic and stressed that
India seeks to move toward NORMS,
a ‘New Orientation for a Reformed
Multilateral System. Outlining India’s
priorities in the UNSC, he said:
“We have always been a voice of
reason and a votary of international
law. We advocate dialogue, consultation
and fairness in our approach
to global issues. And we emphasize
global development, addressing
climate change and eradicating of
poverty as central to planet’s future.”
India’s work in the UNSC will be
guided by 5Ss, in Mr Modi’s words.
This included Sammaan (Respect),
Samwad (Dialogue), Sahyog
(Cooperation), Shanti (Peace), to
create conditions for universal ;and
This 5S vision of India’s foreign
policy, which can be called ‘The
India Way’ is finding an increasing
global resonance as a Covid-afflicted
world searches for lasting solutions
to a range of cross-cutting problems
and challenges. India is poised to
shape a proactive and constructive
agenda for global renewal and
remapping the world order, in sync
with shifting contemporary realities.
Manish Chand is Chief Executive and
Editor-in-Chief of ‘India Writes Network’
and ‘India and the World,’ a pioneering
magazine focused on global affairs). The
above article was sent to us by the Indian
High Commission based in Wellington,
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
High yielding bonds do not evince public interest
FMA publishes Investor Guide
to improve awareness
The Financial Markets Authority
(FMA) has published a new investor
guide to bonds, designed
to help novice investors find out
more about an asset class that only 6%
of Kiwis invest in directly.
Bonds are loans from investors to
governments and companies for a
fixed length of time, or term.
Although bonds typically do
not have the high returns of other
financial investments, they are seen
as essential to any portfolio, including
FMA Manager (Investor Capability)
Gillian Boyes said that bonds are not
limited to big institutional investors.
Everyday investors can use them to
diversify their portfolios and spread
“New Zealanders are taking a
greater interest in their finances due
Image from FMA Guide
to Covid-19 and with low interest rates,
many are looking at the share market
and managed funds. But retail investors
should still try to build a portfolio with
assets of varying risks and returns
and high-grade bonds can be a useful
defensive investment,” she said.
Ms Boyes said that the FMA Guide
cuts through the jargon to help novice
investors understand what bonds are,
how they work, what kind of investment
they are and the different types.
“Globally, the bond market is bigger
than the share market, yet relatively
few New Zealanders invest in bonds
directly,” she said.
Low demand for bonds
The FMA’s 2020 Investor Confidence
Survey found just 6% of surveyed New
Zealanders held government or corporate
bonds directly, compared to 3% in
2019 and 10% in 2018. In contrast, 30%
had term deposits and 20% had shares.
But most New Zealanders will
indirectly hold bonds through their
For example, even KiwiSaver growth
Why Covid affects some communities more than others
Study sheds light on
disparities in Massachusetts
Being a recent immigrant to the
US, living in a household with
many people, and working
in the food service industry
appear to be among the top drivers
of high Covid-19 case rates in Latino
communities in Massachusetts, according
to a new Study from researchers
at Harvard T H Chan School of Public
The Study, published August 27, 2020
in Health Affairs, also looked for factors
linked with high Covid-19 case rates
among Black residents, but did not find
Possible explanations could be
disproportionately high incarceration
rates, living in multiunit residential
buildings with high population density,
and greater use of public transportation
to get to work, said Study lead author
Jose Figueroa, Assistant Professor
Of Health Policy and Management, in a
“We really need to try to understand
all of this structural discrimination,” he
The Study quantified Covid-19 cases
from Massachusetts’ 351 cities and
Researchers found that a 10
percentage point increase in the Black
population of a community was associated
with an increase of 312 Covid-19
cases per 100,000 people, while a 10
percentage point increase in the Latino
population was linked with an increase
of 258 cases per 100,000.
“We knew that these communities
were being hit harder, and the question
was, how much more,” Figueroa said in
a Boston Globe article.
“We can now put a number to the
burden on these Latino and Black
communities. And it is significant,” he
An extract from the Study
Across Massachusetts’ cities and
towns, Latino and Black communities
are experiencing much higher rates of
Several factors measured in the
data (foreign-born non-citizen status,
household size, and job type) appear
to explain the higher Covid-19 case
rates among Latino communities in
It appears that these factors may not
be the primary reason for higher case
rates in Black communities.
While the extent of racial and
ethnic disparities has already been
documented, the Study identifies important
factors that are independently
associated with higher Covid-19 case
rates in the State.
The proportion of foreign-born
non-citizens was the strongest predictor
of the burden of Covid-19 cases within a
community, and in Massachusetts, this
population includes sizable numbers of
both Latin American (44.9%) and Asian
Furthermore, under the Trump
Administration’s revised “Public
Charge” Rule, which took effect in early
2020, lawfully present immigrants who
use public benefits from local, state,
or federal governments may be at risk
of being denied permanent residency
Insurance for migrant population
Although the US Citizenship and
Immigration Services website now
encourages immigrants to seek care for
Covid-19 like symptoms, enrolment in
Medicaid at the time of Covid-19-related
care may still be used in the Public
Controversy over Abbott as British trade envoy
The rumour that Tony
Abbott, the controversial
Former Prime Minister of
Australia, is being lined up
as a trade envoy for the UK was
a summer news story few saw
Appearing before the House of
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee,
Abbott confirmed that he has
had some discussions with members
of the British government.
While he said that he is “more
than happy to help,” he insisted
that nothing is official “as yet”.
Abbott is notorious in Australia
for his “ocker” manner and
He is regularly photographed
in a pair of “budgie smugglers”
with surfboard under arm at
his beloved Queenscliff beach in
He is on record with statements
concerning indigenous Australians,
the environment and the role of
women in society that would make
the most hardened miner in a local
pub wince at the insensitivity. Not
many public figures embraced
the label “dinosaur,” but even his
supporters recognise that Abbott
is an unreconstructed example of
Australian chauvinist manhood.
What on Earth, then, could drive
the British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson, and his advisers to reach
out to someone whose toxicity
matches Donald Trump in many
Opinions vary. Some insist
that with the UK in dire need of
Tony Abbott: the future face of UK trade (EPA Photo by Joel Carrett)
expertise in its trade negotiations,
it makes perfect sense to employ
someone highly familiar with the
Asia-Pacific economic terrain. The
only problem with this hypothesis
is that even according to his close
confidants, Abbott had very little
to do with trade during his term of
office, or indeed at any time before
Others smell something more
suspicious. Abbott is of course an
international figure who has moved
in influential circles and has strong
connections, not least with the
conservative establishment in the
US. He moves in high places among
the policy wonks, thinktanks and
institutes with lavish funds at their
disposal to entertain friends and allies.
Could this appointment reflect
the fact that Abbott is a useful ally
in these circles?
Flying the flag
Surely there is a more obvious
This is that Abbott stands
symbolically for a set of values and
a political orientation which the
Boris Johnson government wishes
to endorse and align itself.
In terms of values, Abbott represents
a US style of conservatism
based on a belief in “family values,“
patriotism and the flag.
But within that broad appellation
we can also identify a distinctively
neoconservative stance in terms of
the assertion of “western” values
and the superiority of the European
inheritance, including but not
limited to the value of colonialism
and imperialism, and what international
relations scholars term
This is the view that, in a world
of competing ideologies, military
conflicts are inevitable.
In short, Abbott’s world view is
not at all dissimilar to that of Steve
Bannon, the controversial architect
of the first phase of Trump’s
Like Bannon, Abbott is an
unapologetic culture warrior. He
believes that western societies have
lost their way and lost confidence
in themselves. He thinks the west
needs to re-find its mojo and reassert
the superiority of its values and
way of life, particularly in relation
to the Islamic world and China.
All this implies a kind of permanent
war against the forces of the
left, such as antifa, the left-liberal
Johnson is looking to establish ‘Global Britain’ after Brexit (PA Photo)
establishment of universities and
the media and the apologists for
identity politics, multiculturalism
and cosmopolitanism. It also
means committing to permanent
conflict externally, on the hostile
terrain that is global politics. It is
a hawkish, unfashionable view of
the world with metropolitan elites,
but one virulently supported in
Australia by its leading newspaper,
the Australian, and by the Rupert
Murdoch-owned Sky News.
The question remains then, what
possible use are all these associations
He has strived to confect an
image of harmless amiability with a
“big tent” politics.
He has sought to be a lot of
different things to a lot of different
groups in order to secure the
hallowed middle ground of British
The answer is surely that “culture
war” of a kind articulated quite
crudely by Abbott and Trump
but also in Europe by the likes of
France’s Marine Le Pen, the Netherlands’
Geert Wilders, Italy’s Matteo
Salvini and Hungary’s Viktor Orban
has shown itself to be popular with
funds could hold between 10% to 37%
in fixed income assets, which include
The guide, called, ‘Bond voyage,’
complements previous FMA investor
guides to shares (Share this) and
managed funds (Funds for Everyone).
Why buy bonds?
Ms Boyes said bonds pay regular
interest, they can be traded during their
term, and return capital on maturity.
“High-grade bonds are generally a
predictable investment and hence they
are ideal for anyone who is investing
for a relatively short time or looking to
balance their portfolio with lower-risk
investments. Bonds are also much simpler
to buy and sell than many people
realise; you can buy them through a
broker or invest in a fund consisting of
bonds,” she said.
Recent studies suggest that immigrant
families have strong incentives not
to enrol in public health insurance
like Medicaid and may avoid seeking
medical care if they develop Covid-19
like symptoms and require testing.
In the absence of a positive test, these
individuals are less likely to isolate and
quarantine, which may impede public
health efforts to control the spread of
These issues are likely only magnified
by the fact that immigrants tend to live
in larger households, which we also
found to be an independent predictor of
Covid-19 case rates.
Policy approaches that reduce
barriers to accessing medical care for
immigrant populations and that address
crowded housing, particularly when
individuals have tested positive and
need to be isolated, could be important
avenues for reducing disparities and
slowing the spread of infection.
The above article and picture appeared in The
voters who don’t normally vote for
The theme is a great way to draw
in working class and precariously
employed people who are looking
for stronger “authority” figures to
deal with what they perceive to
be increasingly lawless societies
surrendering themselves to immigrants
and the multicultural left.
No-win Covid scenario
It also serves to insulate a regime
from the vagaries of public policy
outcomes, of which Covid-19 is the
most recent and obvious example.
The pandemic is a classic no-win
scenario for most governments.
Play too lax and one gets blamed
for too many deaths. Play it too
hard and one suffers the economic
consequences of lockdown.
A culture war, on the other hand,
presents a win-win for conservative
regimes across the world
looking to maintain power.
Hiring Abbott will not inoculate
the UK government against policy
failure, as such.
But it sends a strong signal to
Tory MPs and the wider public
that this government wants to
be judged less on the flimflam of
policy outcomes, over which it has
uncertain control, and more on the
defence of a certain outlook and a
certain way of life that it hopes will
chime with the electorate.
Simon Tormey is Professor of Politics
at University of Bristol, England. The
above stories and pictures have been
published under Creative Commons
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Bipartisan support underscores child development
The first three years are critical
for a child’s development and
long-term success in life, but
policy has unfortunately been
playing catch-up with the evidence for
some time now.
With National’s announcement of a
new First 1000 days policy, it is extremely
encouraging to see solid, bi-partisan support
on providing support for families
with young children to give them the
best chance to thrive.
Alongside enhanced screening,
National’s policy promises up to $3000
to new parents to spend on approved
programmes and services like sleep
specialists, lactation consultants and
additional parental leave/ECE hours for
High Risk families
For families identified as “high risk” an
additional $3000 is available, alongside
the provision of navigators to guide them
through the process.
This policy is on the heels of Labour’s
Best Start Payment as part of its Family
Package in the 2017 Budget: a universal
$60 a week for the first year for all
children, and means-tested for the next
two years if the household earns less
than $79,000 (now $93,858).
National proposes to keep this but
means-test the first year of Best Start too.
Leaps in evidence from neuroscience
and developmental psychology over
the past few decades have shown how
critical the first three years are for
children’s development, and therefore,
these policies are important.
The Center on the Developing Child
at Harvard points how the “the basic
architecture of the brain is constructed
through an ongoing process that begins
before birth and continues into adulthood.”
The capacity for children’s brains
to develop diminishes as they get older.
Confidence and security
Given stable, warm, and responsive relationships,
children have the confidence
and security they need to thrive in life.
Self-reliance drives economic reforms in India
Vinayak Surya Swami
As the country tackles the spread
of Covid-19, Prime Minister
Narendra Modi has advocated
a push towards making India
self-reliant through a series of measures
and economic relief packages.
With the advent of the Novel Coronavirus
pandemic, a new world economic
order is emerging and nations are just
coming to terms with it.
Mr Modi has been quick in this
realisation and has accordingly altered
existing policies and introduced several
muti-sectoral initiatives to further the
vision of a thriving economy for India.
Reaffirming his belief, in a recent
address, he said, “Howsoever big the
crisis might be, India is determined to
turn it into an opportunity.”
He then called upon the nation for its
support in this regard by making India
“Atmanirbhar” or Self Reliant. He also
announced a relief package of INR 20
Trillion (equivalent to 10% of India’s
GDP) that will steer the country onto the
path of rapid development and growth,
and create a robust local supply chain.
India’s plan for self-reliance is intended
to be a two pronged approach.
The first step will be undertaking
of interim measures such as liquidity
infusion and direct cash transfers to migrant
workers and daily-wage earners.
The second facet would be long-term
reforms in growth-critical sectors that
will make them globally competitive
According to Mr Modi’s vision, a
self-reliant India will stand on five
pillars: ‘economy’, that introduces
quantum jump; ‘infrastructure’ in
tune with New India, a ‘system’ based
on 21st century technology; ‘vibrant
demography’; and ‘demand,’ which
will utilise our requirement and supply
chain to full capacity.
Mr Modi’s vision of a capable,
efficient and self-reliant nation has
quickly been realised and introduced as
‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative. Some
immediate reforms are now being
factored into policy making decisions
to bolster domestic capabilities and
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ANBA)
is focused on building the entire value
chains for domestic products that will
enable local manufacturers to thrive
and reduce the need for imports.
The Department of Promotion of
Industry and Internal Trade has already
identified key sectors followed by
measures to boost competitiveness,
simplify procedures and encourage
ANBA has identified the Micro, Small
and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector,
with its significant contributions to the
GDP, exports and employment ratio as
the core area for economic revival and
As a start, a more inclusive definition
has been announced to bring a larger
group of small-scale industries under
the purview of the beneficial reforms
and extend the cover for existing businesses
allowing them to grow under the
Image from VJM & Associates
Over 500 million entities will be
empowered to restart operations and
get back on their feet with momentous
reforms for the MSME sector.
These include introduction of
collateral free loans (total of INR 3000
billion), INR 200 billion in subordinate
loans for reviving businesses and a
significant infusion of almost INR 500
billion in the sector through several
new funds being set up.
With an aim to boost domestic
production and expand quality exports,
the Merchandise Exports from India
Scheme is poised to be replaced by
the Remission of Duties and Taxes
on Exports scheme (RDTEP) to offset
infrastructural inefficiencies and
costs associated with exporting goods
produced in India.
The government aims to extend these
benefits to entities with a capability of
generating employment in the country
The export sector and domestic
production will also benefit from the
proposed re-envisioning of the existing
costs associated with manufacturing.
The lowered taxes on exporting
goods across borders in addition to
imposition of anti-dumping duties on
imports will provide a level playing
field to domestic manufacturers.
A reform aimed towards increasing
production potential locally and to ease
the process of exports while simultaneously
reducing the dependence on
The New Vision
The start-up segment of the Indian
space sector has been added as a direct
beneficiary for the use of facilities and
premier infrastructure of Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO), India’s
state-run space agency. The move has
come as an addition to ISRO’s ‘technology
transfer’ initiative that provides
new-age tech to private and state-run
entities towards the betterment of
The defence industry will also benefit
from the freeing-up of the space sector.
When it comes to innovative advances
towards new-age technology, the
pandemic, and the new reforms, will
act as a catalyst for development.
Moreover, this move will also allow
for an opportunity for Defence Space
Research Organisation, India’s new
defence oriented space agency, to
become a nodal authority for positive
outreach with space start-ups.
The government has also drawn
up a new policy for privatisation of
Public Sector Enterprise (PSEs) to boost
public-private partnerships, which
will soon be notified to the concerned
A stoic defence
In a major highlight, ANBA has been
extended to India’s defence sector.
The Foreign Direct Investment has
Infographics from Vajiram & Ravi
been raised to 74% from the existing
49%. This will enable domestic manufacturers
to source and utilise critical
technologies that will help in the much
needed modernisation and revamp of
the production process.
The Ordinance Factory Board
(OFB), a 200-year-old organisation,
will undergo corporatisation to make
manufacturing autonomous, boost
efficiency and increase accountability.
In this reconstruction, one or
multiple corporations will be added
into the 41 factories currently falling
Back to basics
Special attention has been paid to the
agriculture sector with its position as
India’s largest livelihood provider and a
significant contributor to the country’s
GDP. In a first, the sector has been
considered at par with the industries
in India, and the government, under
ANBA has announced a stream of
pioneering reforms aimed towards
empowering farmers across India.
Going forward, there will be minimal
hindrance arising from trade and
licensing agreements, thereby allowing
farmers to easily accomplish business
transcending state lines.
Millions of farmers will directly benefit
from the INR 300 billion additional
emergency working capital to stabilise
production in these testing times.
With INR 100 billion capital infusion,
Mirco Food Enterprises will now
be provided technological benefits
in clusters (mango in UP, saffron in
Jammu and Kashmir, bamboo shoots in
the Northeast, chilli in Andhra Pradesh
and so on.) to standardised quality
and production as per FASSAI norms.
The products will then be marketed to
promote an increase in demand.
Vocal for Local
The list of reforms are also aimed
towards utilising the surplus of agricultural
commodities with amendments
to the Essential Commodities Act, made
to ensure adequate supply in times
of scarcity. These amendments, by
utilising the surplus and by providing
a subsidy for the transport to deficient
markets will create a secure supply/
demand chain and protect the interest
of Indian farmers.
Mr Modi had recently quoted Swami
Vivekananda and urged Indians to use
indigenous products and to promote
Indian products in global markets,
furthering his idea of ‘Vocal for Local’.
India needs to simultaneously boost
authentic exports in order to carve
a niche out for itself in the emerging
world order. An effort which will not
only fast track our journey to become
a US$ 5 trillion economy, but will
also ensure that Indian interests are
safeguarded in the years to come.
To boost domestic production, the
government has imposed an import
Conversely, volatile, cold, and absent
relationships mean children are overloaded
“toxic stress” leading to “lifelong
problems in learning, behaviour, and
physical and mental health.”
In the end, healthy relationships in
the early years will likely lead children
to healthy lives later on, so a policy focus
on supporting the development of these
relationships makes sense.
Rhetoric not matched
But while it might seem like common
sense to invest early, the actual policy
spend hasn’t matched this intuition.
Back in 2015, then-Finance Minister
Bill English noted that, “serious money
doesn’t get spent until children turn
three…it has been a revelation…we are
all a bit surprised the way we spend the
money does not match the rhetoric that
ban on radial and pneumatic tyres used
in two and four wheelers.
Global tenders of up to INR 2 billion
will be restricted to boost production
INR 20 billion for fishermen through
Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada
The Garib Kalyan Rojgar Yojana, an
INR 50 billion scheme to create jobs
for the thousands of migrant workers
affected due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Restrictions on import of incense
sticks, bamboo products and odoriferous
Additional support, including
the option of summer
school, is being put in place
for senior secondary school
students whose learning has been
disrupted by the re-emergence
of Covid-19 in the community,
Education Minister Chris Hipkins
Announcing the new temporary
measure yesterday (September
9), he said that 2020 has been a
unsettling year for many New
Zealanders, and more so for some
senior secondary students.
“Their wellbeing is one of our top
priorities, and everyone working
towards NCEA this year will have
had their learning and assessment
programme affected by Covid-19.
Its resurgence in the community
has meant that some students,
particularly those in Auckland,
have spent a longer period out of
their classrooms at a critical time of
year,” he said.
Mr Hipkins said that the government
had announced changes
in May and June that included
Learning Recognition Credits,
changes to thresholds for Course
and Certificate endorsements, and
delays to NCEA examination and
portfolio submission dates.
Term 3 and 4 Changes
The Education Ministry is
expanding and enhancing
Programmes including the Big
Picture Programme delivered
through Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
(Te Kura) - the Correspondence
School for students who are at risk
of disengaging or who may already
be disengaged from education from
For students who only need a few
additional credits (up to 10 credits)
to gain an NCEA or University
Entrance, there is a temporary
lift of the cap on the number of
students who can enrol in Te Kura
Correspondence School over the
summer period from 1000 students
to up to 4000 students.
“Students will have the ability to
earn up to six additional Learning
Recognition Credits at NCEA
Level 1, or 4 additional Learning
Recognition Credits at NCEA Levels
2 or 3, raising the cap to a total of
16 Learning Recognition Credits at
This came to light having with new
insights mined from the Integrated Data
Infrastructure (IDI) data. Policies are
finally catching up to the evidence.
Of course, there remains debate on
the precise nature of the payments and
Should they be universal or targeted?
Cash payments or in-kind products and
To a large extent this comes down to
ideological differences, and this is the
natural domain of politics. The most
important thing here, though, is that the
political disagreement is not around the
importance of the early years.
The early years consensus is one that
will pay off for future generations.
Kieran Madden is Research Manager at
Maxim Institute based in Auckland
An import ban on specific lists of
weapons/platforms to be notified on
year-wise timelines to boost indigenisation
and domestic production.
Imposition of an anti-dumping
duty on specific steel products to
ensure cheap imports does not disrupt
Vinayak Surya Swami is a New Delhi-based
journalist. He holds a degree in Mechanical
Engineering and has worked as an apprentice
Shipbuilder with the Indian Navy. A
part-time writer since his teenage years,
he switched to journalism to pursue his
prurience for writing and travel.
More changes to NCEA
students in Auckland
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins
NCEA Level 1, and 12 at NCEA Levels
2 and 3. We are changing the ratio by
which Learning Recognition Credits
are earned, so one Learning Recognition
Credit will be received for each
four credits students earn through
assessment, rather than one Learning
Recognition Credit for each five
credits earn through assessment,” Mr
The other changes include
reducing the threshold to receive an
NCEA certificate endorsement from
46 credits to 44 credits. The threshold
to receive an NCEA endorsement
is usually 50 credits at Merit or
Mr Hipkins said that there may be
a small number of other circumstances
where it may be appropriate to
apply the expanded Learning Recognition
Credits changes. NZQA and the
Ministry of Education will determine
the criteria for consideration of these.
“These decisions will provide
immediate relief to students, teachers
and whānau who are concerned
about the impact of the second
lockdown on the opportunity to
attain NCEA while maintaining the
credibility and reputation of the qualification.
The Ministry of Education
and NZQA have worked alongside
school principals, teachers and my
NCEA Professional Advisory Group
on these changes, and I’d like to thank
them for their advice,” he said.
Mr Hipkins said that since the announcement
of changes to University
Entrance (UE) in June, Universities
have amended their discretionary
entry requirements in recognition
of the disruption students have
experienced this year.
“This has been a tough year, I
encourage students who are feeling
anxious or stressed to reach out if
they need any help,” he said.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Religious diversity makes Taiwan the second best in the world
As a world leader in promoting
religious freedom, Taiwan is
providing a home for people of
Normally a place of quiet reflection,
Tian-An Tai-Ho Retreat Center in the
sleepy township of Sanyi in central
Taiwan’s Miaoli County was a hub of
activity for four days last year.
This was during the 19th Religion
and Peace Life Camp organised by
Taipei City-based Taiwan Conference
on Religion and Peace (TCRP), the
country’s largest platform for inter
The event brought together more
than 100 representatives of the
country’s major religions, namely Buddhism,
Christianity, Islam and Taoism,
alongside those from lesser-known
faiths like I Kuan Tao and The Lord of
TCRP and ROC Buddhist Association
President Jing Yao said that mutual
understanding and respect are key
to maintaining harmonious relations
between people of different faiths.
“One way we demonstrate this is by
always serving vegetarian meals, which
are acceptable to all.”
I Kuan Tao allowed in Taiwan
Religious freedom is now taken for
granted in Taiwan’s pluralistic, tolerant
society, but the right to practice without
fear of persecution was not always
Prior to the lifting of martial law in
1987, religious activities were only legal
for major religions.
By contrast, despite sharing many
of the principles of Confucianism,
Buddhism and Taoism, I Kuan Tao, also
known as the Religion of One Unity, was
branded a cult and officially banned.
Now free to practice in Taiwan,
I Kuan Tao has gained a small but
Illustration by Lin Hsin-chieh
According to a 2019 survey of the
country’s population conducted by
the Institute of Sociology at Academia
Sinica, the nation’s foremost research
organisation, 2.1% of respondents
identified as believers in the religion.
Lin Pen-hsuan, an academic from
Miaoli-based National United University
specialising in local belief systems,
thinks the percentage could be even
higher as people might be reluctant
to reveal their true feelings given past
stigma attached to I Kuan Tao.
The same survey found 49.3% of
respondents were followers of folk
religions, 14% Buddhists, 12.4% Taoists
and 6.8% Christians, with a further
13.2% not holding any religious beliefs.
Taiwan does not keep national data
on religious demographics, and faith
groups are not required to register
with the central or local governments,
although about 3500 have chosen to
Religious freedom is guaranteed
under Article 13 of Taiwan’s Constitution.
“All religious groups are free to
practice provided they don’t break any
laws,” Lin Ching-chi, Director, Department
of Civil Affairs at the Ministry of
the Interior (MOI) said.
The Department oversees religious
affairs for the central government.
“It’s not for the state to say whether
a belief is valid. That’s for each individual
to decide,” he said.
Rather than regulating religious
activities, the government is committed
to eliminating barriers standing in
the way of worship. In 2000, the MOI
established the Advisory Commission
on Religious Affairs, which sees
representatives from the nation’s
various faiths meet with academics and
government officials to address any
concerns religious groups may have,
such as regarding land use rights for
The MOI also recognises those who
give back to society.
Since 1976, it has presented the Best
Religious Organisation of Social Charity
Promotion Award for work done
ranging from child welfare services to
Consistent performers are eligible
for the prestigious Executive Yuan
Award of Social Charity Promotion,
whose winners include Hualien County-headquartered
Tzu Chi Foundation
in Eastern Taiwan. Established in
1966, Tzu Chi is the country’s largest
Buddhist charity and is known for its
humanitarian endeavours around the
Lin said that religions have a
stabilising influence on society, with
religious organisations at the forefront
and have been a force for good in
Taiwan, offering help when the state is
unable to do so.
“Many people participate in
charitable work through programmes
organised by the country’s religious entities.
This broad-base support is clear
from the number of recipients of the
MOI and Executive Yuan awards, last
year totalling 173 and 15, respectively,”
The Education Minister has also
done its part to make the country’s
learning institutions a welcoming
environment for all manner of faiths.
In the past, colleges and universities
were barred from hosting departments
focused on a single religion, such as for
training members of the clergy.
Consequently, religious schools were
not officially recognised, although
they could still operate and recruit
students. This restriction was lifted
in 2004, leading to the establishment
of numerous respected institutions
including Dharma Drum Buddhist
College in New Taipei City, Taiwan
Baptist Theological Seminary in Taipei,
and Chong De School of I Kuan Tao in
the central county of Nantou.
Institutional reforms combined
with a multicultural society have
cemented Taiwan’s reputation as a
hub of religious activity. According to
US think tank Pew Research Center,
Taiwan ranks second only to Singapore
worldwide in terms of religious diversity
and MOI statistics reveal the country
is home to more than 33,000 religious
buildings, equivalent to nearly one for
every sq km.
Keen to build on its reputation as a
welcoming home for believers, Taiwan
is establishing links with religious
YOUR SUCCESS PARTNER
organisations in other nations to share
its successful transformation and play
its part in improving religious freedom
In July 2018, the US Department of
State held the first Ministerial to Advance
Religious Freedom (MARF) and
launched the Potomac Plan of Action
calling on participating countries and
territories to create ambassadors at
large for religious freedom. Taiwan
was among the first to respond,
appointing Pusin Tali, President of Yu-
Shan Theological College and Seminary
in Hualien and a member of the Atayal
indigenous people, as its Ambassador.
Days after his appointment, Mr
Tali attended the opening of A Civil
Society Dialogue on Securing Religious
Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region in
Sponsored and supported by Taiwan
and the US, the event was organised by
Taipei-based Taiwan Foundation for
Democracy and brought together more
than 200 distinguished guests from
home and abroad to discuss growing
threats to religious expression.
Four months later, Mr Tali flew to
Washington for the second MARF as
one of more than 1000 global civil and
religious leaders in attendance.
“My appointment is truly a first for
the country. Taiwan is a nation where
people of all faiths and ethnicities
can thrive, and one that is serious
about strengthening cooperation with
like-minded countries to protect religious
freedoms worldwide. Ensuring
that all are free to worship however
and whenever they want is integral to
Taiwan values. It is an unshakeable
part of our identity,” he said.
Oscar Chung works at Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan).
The above articles appeared in Taiwan
Today. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Onam brings harmony and festive spirit among communities
Friendly people showering respect
and hospitality, entertainers
in colour costumes and men
and women serving at least 18
different food items are among the
features of ‘Onam,’ the most colourful
festival of the people of South Indian
State of Kerala.
Unfortunately, this year, festivities
were confined to home in New Zealand
in view of the fear of community
transmission of Covid-19. Onam 2020,
celebrated yesterday (August 31, 2020)
was subdued in India as well.
Every year, the Auckland Malayali
Samajam and the Auckland Hindu
Malayali Samajam organise Onam
featuring traditional songs and dances,
a skit and traditional welcome to
‘Onam Sadhya,’ an exquisite meal
that will highlight not only the cuisine
but also culture of Kerala will be the
highlight of the event.
While the actual day of celebration of
Onam in Kerala was on Monday, August
31, 2020, celebrations in other parts of
the world would vary, depending on the
convenience of local communities.
Oneness at heart
The community spirit and sense of
belonging of people of Kerala come
to the fore at Onam festivities every
year. There are no Hindus, Christians,
Muslims, Nairs, Menons, Namboodris
or any other faiths in such gatherings.
There are just Malayalis coming
Margam Kali being performed at the Indian Newslink Festivals of South
A traditional item at Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam Onam Celebration 2019
together to mark the change of season
to one of harvesting the goodness
sown months earlier. The reason for
the gathering could have a historic
perspective involving a Demon King
(please read the adjacent story) but the
purpose these days is to foster harmony
and peace that are so conspicuous by
their absence in the modern world.
“Kerala has a multicultural society of
Hindus, Muslims and Christians living
in harmony from times immemorial.
Keralites have a very broadminded
culture, which permits mutual respect
of social and cultural aspects. The same
Ahmadiyyas welcome Christchurch massacre verdict
Women presenting ‘Kaikotti Kali’ at Onam Festival of Auckland Malayali
attitudes and values are brought to New
Zealand. This is particularly relevant
and valuable for the youth born and
bought up here or who came here at a
very young age,” Mr Varghese said.
‘Malayalis,’ as they are known, are
among the most hardworking, resilient
and family-oriented people from India
and over the years, their presence
in almost every country around the
world as professionals, entrepreneurs,
scientists, medical practitioners,
engineers, accountants, administrators,
support staff has been acknowledged
and applauded. They are among the
most prominent expatriates in the Arab
Gulf which was home for this writer for
a length of time.
Auckland Malayali Samajam
Established in 1997 as a not-for-profit
organisation, Auckland Malayali Samajam
aims to preserve and promote the
unique culture of Kerala.
The Samajam accounts for more
than 1000 members and that a number
of cultural, educational and sporting
events have been planned for the year.
The Samajam aims to educate the
younger members of our community
on the rich culture and language
of Kerala and help them to grow as
“We are committed to the well-being
of all New Zealanders, towards the
achievement of which we conduct
blood donation camps every year,
organise donations for community
welfare organisations such as Salvation
Army and the Auckland City Mission,
Westpac Rescue Helicopter, St John’s
Ambulance,” Mr Varghese said.
Auckland Hindu Malayali Samajam
Established three years ago, the
Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam
is a not-for-profit organisation aimed
at promoting the Hindu way of life
among the younger members of the
Samajam President Gopal Ayyar
said that it is politically agnostic and
“We are informed but will not favour
or endorse any political party or position.
We do not intend to be affiliated
with any other religious or political
organisation. The Samajam’s key
initiative is to spread the awareness of
our rich tradition and the Hindu tenets
to our younger generation,” he said.
to our faith, we also turn only to God “Our members are mercilessly
Almighty and seek strength from Him killed and openly boycotted. Signs are
through these difficult times being even placed outside of shops saying,
faced by our community as we come to ‘Ahmadis must be killed’ and ‘We do
New Zealand’s Ahmadiyya
the end of a chapter in New Zealand,” not deal with Ahmadis’. Unfortunately,
community has welcomed
Imam Qamar said.
we do not get justice or the support of
the sentencing of Australian
Community targeted in Pakistan the law due to state laws like Ordinance
terrorist Brenton Tarrant at
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community XX,” he said.
the Christchurch High Court on August
New Zealand National President Bashir Heightened threats
27, 2020, saying that it brought an end
Khan said that we are fortunate to live Mr Khan said that threats against
to the chapter of the horrific Mosque
in a country where there is freedom of community members in Pakistan have
attacks on March 15, 2019.
belief and worship.
heightened in recent years, including
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
“Whilst we are grateful for the targeted killings.
Ahmadiyyas Imam Mustenser Qamar
Ahmadiyyas National President Bashir Khan
New Zealand Imam Mustenser Qamar
harshest possible sentence being given “Due to the laws restricting Ahmadis
said that the harrowing memories of
the survivors who go through the most survived similar Mosque attacks and out to the Christchurch terrorist, we from peacefully practicing our faith
‘that dark day in March 2019’ will live
difficult times,” he said.
targeting in Pakistan, however, due to also recall the sufferings of our own and the false accusations of blasphemy
on especially for the families directly
He said that over the past few years, state-backed persecution perpetrators members. Some who have survived levelled against Ahmadis, vigilantism
many members of the Ahmadiyya are often hailed as heroes,” Imam and taken refuge in the shores of leads to the targeting of our members.
Courage of Muslims
community have arrived from
New Zealand and some who are still Recently, a murderer walked into a
“Our Muslim brothers and sisters
Pakistan where they have faced similar He hoped that Muslim countries suffering on a daily basis without any court and killed one person, identifying
showed great courage and bravery in
like Pakistan can also learn from New justice from the legal system or the him as an Ahmadi [though he was not].
confronting the terrorist with their
“One of the survivors of a Mosque Zealand.
law,” he said.
Yet, this murderer was hailed as a hero
victim statements (at the Christchurch
attack in Lahore in 2010 still recalls the “Not only in the support and love Mr Khan said that in Pakistan, due and even security forces proudly took
Court). Though, according to our
vivid memories of that time and still shown by the people, but also the to state laws specifically targeting our selfies with him due to the honour he
beliefs, the martyrs will be rewarded, it
has multiple scars of bullets in his body. government and legal system ensuring community, we do not have these freedoms
to peacefully practice our faith. said.
was getting for this murder,” Mr Khan
is often those who are left behind and
Many of our community members have justice reigns supreme. However, due
Timely help is central to reduce family violence
Family Violence is a complex
problem and one which occurs
in all parts of our society.
Family Violence can be
physical, sexual or psychological.
It is not a private matter when people
are being harmed.
Economic and social factors due to
the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted
in an increase in reported incidents of
Home social interaction has increased
with children being away from
school, parents working from home
and the rest of the family spending
more time with one another.
This could create situations of
disagreement on small matters which
lead to family violence.
Be aware that your children are
witnessing the harmful behaviours of
elder in the family home. They will pick
up the words, tones, moods and actions
displayed by the elders and it could
Violence is never okay and we want
all victims to be assured that if they
come forward, their voice will be taken
seriously and treated sensitively.
If you suspect someone close to you
is a victim of family violence or feel
something is not right, it is okay to act
on it – you could save a life.
If they are in immediate danger, we
urge you to call the Police immediately
Togetherness, care for one another
and support are the pillars on which
you can build strength to overcome
issues created by economic stress as
well as social limitations.
If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed,
there is help available.
The following agencies have the
language and cultural capability to
meet your needs.
Sahaayta Counselling Services (09)
2804064; Gandhi Nivas (for men) 0800-
426344; Roopa Aur Aap (09) 6204606,
Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust (09)
6221010, New Zealand Sikh Women’s
Association (09) 270-0798, Safer
Aotearoa Family Violence Prevention
Network 0800-367942 Shakti 0800-742-
Our Staff Reporter adds:
Family Violence is a rising menace
throughout the world and New Zealand
is no exception.
Every three minutes or so, someone,
somewhere in this country is harmed
and the Police field calls about this
problem more than anything else.
The Government brought into being
the Family Violence Act 2018 on July 1,
2019, redefining Family Violence with
provisions for pressing criminal charges
and prosecution of perpetrators and
swift carriage of justice.
But it does not go far enough to
address the real problem: Supporting
victims in culturally enclosed communities;
and victims who ensnared by
the very system that intends to protect
them. There is therefore a need for
organisations that understand female
victims (who are by far a majority),
helps them to seek palliatives from
their despicable predicaments and
enable them to become economically
and emotionally independent.
Changing force of Law
Closer attention by the forces of law
and order would see a decline in family
violence worldwide. Over the past few
years, coppers in almost every country
have abandoned what is known as ‘the
tea and sympathy approach’ to abuse.
These days, the Police treat violent
partners in much the same way as
the American authorities treated Al
Capone: “If we can’t get him for beating
up his wife, what else can we get him
We should not underplay the
importance of introducing tougher laws
to bring the perpetrators to justice. For,
what is a society if it features homes
that are less safe than public places, say
a pub, where brawls are common?
We certainly do not want our
homes to become watering holes with
fountains of violence erupting beer
We would like to see organisations
such as those mentioned above to
be well-funded and strengthened to
service our communities better.
Sergeant Gurpreet Arora is Family Harm
Partnership Liaison Officer at Whangaia Nga
Pa Harakeke based in the Counties Manukau
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Nature prompts humanity to seek love in a pandemic world
Love is deep inner strength, faith
True, Altruistic, Selfless love is
rare and sets you free, contrary to the
darker side of destruction, anger, pain,
lust and jealousy seen in movies, social
media and our mundane lives now.
Is love confined to only romantic
relationships? How often do we seek
love and beauty in humanity, family,
Nature or an art form?
Purpose in life
An Indian woman was depressed as
she was unable to bear children.
Drowned in sadness, she attempted
suicide; however, survived.
This incident shook her world and
Nature symbolises tenderness, love and care (Image
by Mylene2401 from Pixabay)
made her realise that there must be a
purpose behind her survival.
Mother Nature is our best healer.
She started enjoying her long-forgotten
passion for gardening, by raising trees
like beautiful children.
Till date, this 109-year-old woman
has planted over 300 trees, covering
acres of land and still counting.
Jealousy and possessiveness
We, humans become jealous and
possessive towards our loved ones, fear
of losing them to someone else makes
us control or seek attention.
Attachment leads to suffering.
We clench upon and suffocate them
with obsession. The birds have a beautiful
connection with the trees upon
which they build nests. It is adorable to
watch the hungry birds carrying grains
in their tiny beaks, flying miles to feed
their young ones.
What a heart-melting depiction of
selfless nursing love!
We, humans, are like birds; however,
caged in the walls of religion, race,
limited beliefs, anger, jealousy.
In contrast to the baby birds pushed
out of their nests to fly; as parents
sometimes, we overprotect our children
trying to fit them in our moulds.
Challenges change people
With changing times, challenges
change too. So how can we prepare
our young ones to face the world in the
same frame? With love in our hearts,
create space to fly and help accelerate
their growth rather than hinder the
process or tie them up with obsession
and fear of falling.
Our job as parents is to teach them
the joy of bouncing back from failures
and taking their first step towards
success, enjoying and accepting
the beautiful journeys along with
In my opinion, love is God’s gift for
all of us. So, feel it from within in your
darkest moments and spread the joy of
being around. Love is light and makes
me spread my wings and fly.
It does sound like a fantasy world
as in reality, we neither have wings
nor can fly. But if we look at the world
from the eyes of an innocent child, it is
pure, serene, peaceful…full of joy and
Covid-19, the teacher
With a pandemic like Covid-19, Nature
has forced us to take a break and
peep into our material world that we
seek happiness. We wear false masks to
fit into Nature.
Nature is the best teacher if you allow
it to be. Ask yourself only one question.
What would Nature do? Seek a balance
in ‘being’ and ‘doing.’ Drop by at a loved
one’s place and do some good deeds as
each good deed sets you free, and each
kind word makes you strong.
A shocking reminder to all of us to
enjoy and cherish life’s little moments
and beautiful spirits of people around
us amidst the rocky terrain.
Pranoti Gupta was until recently a Refugees’
teacher based in Auckland with more than
23 years of teaching experience in India and
New Zealand. A mother of two teenagers,
she has faced serious health challenges and
adverse circumstances with courage and
determination. (Picture from LinkedIn).
The above article should be read as general
information only and hence should not be
considered specific or individual advice of
social, medical or legal nature. Please seek
professional advice if needed. Pranoti Gupta
and Indian Newslink absolve themselves of
any liability in this connection.
‘Selfie Authentication’ ensures Ola driver compliance
Selfie’ feature introduced
to ensure drivers
are wearing masks
Ola, one of the
world’s largest rideshare platforms,
has launched ‘Selfie Authentication’
technology to ensure that its drivers
are wearing masks while carrying
These measures are a part of the
company’s policy to protect drivers and
The move forms Ola’s ‘new normal’
An Ola driver’s selfie being authenticated
Rajasekhara Reddy fans
donate blood in Auckland
Several members of the ‘YSRCP
NRI New Zealand’ got together
on September 2, 2020 to donate
blood as a part of community
service and as a tribute their leader, Dr
Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, a former Chief
Minister of the (YSR) South Indian
State of Andhra Pradesh on his death
Anand Yeddula, a Senior IT Consultant
who organised the event at New
Zealand Blood in Epsom, said that the
organisation has been established to
promote the causes championed by YSR
who was the Chief Minister of Andhra
Pradesh from 2004 until his death in an
air crash in 2009.
Vardhanthi Blood Camp
“The blood donation drive was our
humble effort to serve the New Zealand
communities as we face uncertain
times perpetrated by Covid-19. It also
commemorated ‘Vardhanthi’ (death
anniver-sary) of our Leader. Our Association
will try to emulate the values
followed by Mr Reddy. He in-spired all
of us through his innovative welfare
schemes that no other person could
imagine. It was his vision and concern
for the poor and the needy in particular
that is remembered by all Tel-uguspeaking
people around the world,” Mr
He said that the YSR Vardhanthi
Blood Donation Camp was supported
by leaders in Andhra Pra-desh. They
included Andhra Pradesh Women’s
Commission Chairperson Vasireddy
Padma, Members of the AP Legislative
Assembly Madhusudhan Reddy (from
Srikalahasthi), Kethireddy Venkatarami
Reddy (Dharmavaram) and Kethireddy
Among those who led the programme
in Auckland were National Party
candidate for Kelston Bala (Venu Beeram),
New Zealand Telugu Association
Current and Past-Presidents respectively
Srilatha Magatala and Jagadeeshwar
Reddy Magatala and Mr Yeddula.
Other participants were Geetha Induri,
Manoj Allam, Pranav Annamaraju,
Anand Yeddula, Bala Beeram (third and fourth from
left), Srilatha Magatala (extreme right) and others
at the Blood Donation Programme in Auckland on
September 2, 2020.
Blood Donors holding their Certificate the YSR
Vardhanthi Blood Donation Drive
Samanth Degapudi, Shraddha Sai,
Siva Ganda, Sreenivas Gotla, Susmitha
Chinnamalreddy, Vijay Alla and Vinay
“We had to limit the participation
of our members and other volunteers
because of Covid-19 Lockdown Level
2.5 and social distancing regulations,”
Mr Yeddula said.
About Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy
Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly
known as YSR, was born on July 8, 1949
in Pulivendula in Andhra Pradesh.
In a career spanning 25 years, he
served his State in various capacity.
He was the President of the Andhra
Pradesh Congress Committee and Leader
of Opposition in the State Assembly.
His life was a classic textbook case of
service and commitment. He was kind
to the poor and fierce with his political
He was personification of an ideal
leader and a man who knew no fear.
YSR entered active politics in 1978
and contested and won in four State
Assembly elections and Lok Sabha, the
Lower House of Federal Parliament.
He was the 14th Chief Minister of the
State in 2004. He died in a helicopter
crash in the dense Nallamala forest on
September 3, 2009.
The technology has been specifically
developed by Ola for drivers in countries
where wearing masks had been
Real-Time Selfie required
Drivers are prompted to periodically
take a real-time selfie with their mask
on before being able to accept further
rides. The selfie is then digitally analysed
to detect if the driver is wearing a
mask and confirm they are a registered
driver in the system.
The ‘Mask Selfie’ feature will be
rolled out across New Zealand this
week, following the guidelines issued by
the government, which have mandated
wearing of masks and face coverings
for rideshare drivers.
Mask Selfie is a feature of Ola’s ‘Selfie
The technology verifies a driver’s
image against the file photo the driver
submitted during registration. If a discrepancy
is detected, a member of Ola’s
Central Verification team will manually
check the photos to determine if they
If the photos do not match or a valid
selfie is not provided when prompted,
the registered driver will be prevented
from using the platform. Drivers found
to be sharing their driver account
will be reported to authorities as
Ola New Zealand Managing Director
Brian Dewil said that the move is to
“Our Selfie Authentication technology
will allow us to regularly check
up on our drivers and prevent those
who are using the platform incorrectly,
from taking rides. We are committed
to raising the industry benchmark
for rideshare in New Zealand, which
is more important than ever in the
current environment,” he said.
Food Hub Collective serves
positive flavour in Papatoetoe
In these Covid-19 affected times,
Papatoetoe Food Hub is the feel-good
story we all need right now.
Nutrient-rich and indigenous
kai at affordable prices: That simple
vision drives the South Auckland social
enterprise, which has been providing
delicious meals from behind the carpark
at New World Papatoetoe since 2018.
Launched with support from local
Government, Foundations and private
donors, Food Hub operates thanks
mainly to a unique partnership with
Papatoetoe New World to utilise produce
otherwise destined for landfill. The original
1948 ‘White Lady’ food truck from
downtown Auckland serves as its iconic
kitchen. Day-to-day operations are managed
by a multicultural family of South
Auckland locals, including Sundaresan
Ramakrishna (popularly known as Raju),
an enthusiastic Indian-Kiwi entrepreneur
who immigrated from Chennai in 1989.
Today, Raju is a Food Hub Director,
along with Waikare Reihana Komene, a
community leader from Otara, and Head
Chef Michelle (daughter of much-revered
Their all-day menu is eat-in, pick-up or
local-delivery, and guilt free!
Worthy of emulation
As the Labour candidate for Manurewa,
I was proud to organise the visit of Prime
Minister Jacinda Ardern to Food Hub
earlier this year.
That visit helped shine a spotlight on
the highly positive role Food Hub plays in
our community: employing locals, offering
a quality and affordable alternative to
fast food, and reducing food waste. As the
Prime Minister said to Raju, ‘we should be
doing this elsewhere too’.
Like other social enterprises and
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Raju, Michelle and others (Photo Supplied)
businesses in Manurewa, Food Hub
temporarily closed its doors during the
Covid-19 lockdowns. Raju credits the
Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme
for keeping eight staff on their payroll
during that time.
New Zealand’s response to preserving
jobs during Covid-19 has been world
leading, according to Nobel Prize
winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
New Zealand faces a long road to
recovery and hardship lies ahead. But it
is good to keep perspective about how
successful we have been in comparison
to many countries.
Closer to home, Raju shared some of
the stories of those the Wage Subsidy
Scheme has helped the following Aucklanders:
An 18-year old Māori man from Otara,
who Raju observed was “lost and looking
He had just successfully finished a
course in scaffolding but could not find
a job. He is now on staff, and “can just
about run any part of the operation all
by himself, from opening and closing, to
laying down a traditional Hangi.”
A Cook Island woman, made
redundant from Air New Zealand due to
Covid-19. She “followed her passion for
vegetarian cooking” into a new career as
a Food Hub chef.
An Indian woman, who was “at home
due to Covid-19 but wanted to continue
She now uses her accounting skills
remotely to support the business.
Gratitude and enthusiasm
Food Hub also employs an additional
two staff under the Ministry of Social
Development’s Flexi-Wage subsidy. Flexi-
Wage helps people at risk of long-term
unemployment get into paid jobs.
It works by providing a wage subsidy
to employers in return for on-the-job
Raju, speaking on behalf of their
entire team, is full of gratitude for the
opportunities their partners have given
Food Hub. He emphasizes that without
the Government’s employee subsidies,
“We would not be able to be here now.”
As we all come together to support
those most impacted by Covid-19, I am
proud of the role that Papatoetoe Food
Hub and its local partners play for the
South Auckland community.
Arena Williams (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāi
Tahu, Ngāi Tūhoe) is the Labour Party candidate
for Manurewa in the general election due
on October 17, 2020. A qualified lawyer and
mother two children, she was raised in South
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Another innovative approach to safety at Saravanaa Bhavan
The international brand
serves an extensive
array of dishes
Diners and those ordering
takeaway dishes at Saravanaa
Bhavan in Auckland City will
find new safety measures
that are not only innovative but also
Sydney-based Saravanaa Bhavan
Partner and Director Shekar Mani
said that measures in force to combat
the spread of Covid-19 pandemic are
rigorous and stringent.
“These include temp check on
arrival, scanning of personal details
and social distancing. In addition, our
own strict safety standards enforced
at all our restaurants all over the
world all the time complement various
lockdown and other regulations in
force,” he said.
A former Director of Coca Cola and
the Taj Group of Hotels, Mr Mani is personally
directing the safety measures
and conducting a weekly drill of staff
through video conferencing.
“This has had a great impact in our
customer numbers. They feel secure
and safe to dine at Saravanaa Bhavan.
We have had an excellent-word-ofmouth
publicity for our efforts through
a cross-section of our customers, especially
the Indian Diaspora,” he said.
According to Saravanaa Bhavan
Facebook page, free undercover parking
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call 021-08095543 for details.
About Saravanaa Bhavan Auckland
When Saravanaa Bhavan opened its
first branch at 51E Hobson Street in the
Central Business District of Auckland
on April 2, 2019, it established a
landmark for the company and began
to quench the thirst of New Zealand’s
largest City, offering an exquisite range
of high quality Indian Vegetarian
Actress Rhea Chakraborty arrested in Mumbai
Reports say arrest
relates to a drug case
Hindi film actress Rhea
Chakraborty was arrested
on September 9, 2020 by
India’s Narcotics Control
Authority in a drugs case related
to the death of her actor-boyfriend
Sushant Singh Rajput.
Thirty-four-year-old Sushant was
found dead in his flat in Mumbai on
June 14, 2020.
Her brother Showik and
Sushant’s former House Manager
Samuel Miranda were also arrested
last week in the same drugs case.
But the charges against them have
not been revealed either.
Police said he had committed suicide.
However, his family registered
a Police complaint against Rhea,
accusing her of her involvement.
The authorities have not yet
revealed the charges against her.
Rhea has consistently refused
to comment except to deny any
wrongdoing on her part.
The arrest of Rhea is considered
to be the most high-profile arrest
in connection with a case that has
Rhea Chakraborty pictured in Mumbai in
February 2019 (Getty Images)
Sushant Singh Rajput was a rising star in Hindi
films (Getty Images)
captivated and polarised India in
Prime time television news
covered every development, turning
A well-qualified male of Indian origin, New Zealand Citizen,
self-employed professional, issueless divorcee, 46 years
(looks younger) is looking for a suitable match.
He owns properties in New Zealand and overseas.
Those interested may send details on an envelope marked,
‘Match for Professional Male’ to
P O Box 82394 Highland Park, Auckland
Saravanaa Bhavan Director Shekar Mani and the Restaurant at 51E Hobson Street, Auckland City
Dishes from South India are delectable at Saravanaa Bhavan
The precincts and its neighbourhood The presence of the brand in 22 countries
(including India, Asia, the Middle
have been experiencing the aroma of
South Indian dishes as specially trained East, Europe, USA and Canada) has
chefs prepare items that have acquired created a galaxy of customers who have
inimitable taste exclusive to this brand. proved their loyalty time and again,
The Auckland Restaurant is 76th in relishing a range of cuisine that have
the international chain of Saravanaa stood the test of time, in quality, taste,
Bhavan and its unique formula of presentation and equally important,
preparations with a unique blend of standard of service.
spices and other ingredients have won Strong Legacy
the admiration of millions of diners Mr Mani said that aromatic spices are
across the Continents, earning for itself the essence of Indian cuisine.
a place of eminence and importance “This is a unique formula that we, at
among the best purveyors culinary Saravana Bhavan chain of Indian Vegetarian
Restaurants follow, to build delights.
Rajput and Rhea’s personal lives into
subjects of public debate.
The social media has been very
active and many of Sushant’s fans
across the world have demanded a
proper inquiry into his death.
According to reports, Sushant and
Rhea began dating in the Summer
of 2019, and moved in together in
December. On June 8, 2020, a week
before his death, Rhea went to stay
with her parents and was not at
home when the actor died.
Centre of controversy
After his death, reports in the
press suggested that he had been
dealing with mental health issues.
But within days, the focus shifted
to Rhea and the 28-year-old upcoming
actress soon found herself at
the centre of a storm of allegations,
conspiracy theories, rumours and
The media attention intensified
after Rajput’s father registered a
complaint against her. He denied
that his son had any mental health
issues and accused Rhea of stealing
his son’s money, among other
For months, Rhea has been trolled
on social media.
She has been called names like
‘Fortune Huntress’ and ‘Mafia Moll,’
and has been accused of getting Sushant
addicted to drugs and driving
him to suicide.
The actress has approached the
Supreme Court over what she says is
an ‘unfair media trial’ and has issued
her own statement and given TV
interviews, denying all the charges
She has also issued a plea to
Home Minister Amit Shah for a fair
investigation into Sushant’s death.
From BBC/RNZ Reports
The Thali offers variety and value for money
businesses across the globe. Each new
restaurant added to our network carries
the legacy of good taste and quality.
We are keen that different genres of
Indian Vegetarian Cuisine are made
available to the wider market. This can
be done beautifully with a marriage of
food with wine. My vision is to position
the Saravanaa Bhavan brand to the
local clientele as I would like to see a
multicultural dining fraternity in my
restaurants,” he said.
Saravanaa Bhavan follows strict
codes of practice, presence and
presentation, with a no-compromise
approach to quality of products and
standards of service. Every Restaurant
of the chain conforms strict regulations
Bollywood slaps up entertainment
as Hollywood bites the dust
Hollywood’s studio system has
been declared dead.
It ended an era when big
budget movies were released
solely to paying audiences in cinemas.
Famous studios names such as MGM,
Fox, Warner, Paramount, Columbia and
Universal may live on in various forms but
their business models do not.
The last to go were Paramount and
Warner, which until last month also
included HBO and CNN. These are now
just cogs in AT&T, a vertically integrated
broadcaster and telecommunications
Similar changes have reduced the others
to mere production units as the entertainment
giants morph into streaming services
that are directly linked to their subscribers.
Netflix, the pacemaker
Netflix set the pace as it realised the only
way to survive, once it could no longer
access studio-made movies, was to make
The result is that cinemas are no
longer the industry’s central focus – a fact
underlined when Disney decided Mulan,
a big budget ($US200 million) movie made
in New Zealand, would go straight to its
streaming service at a premium price.
Part of the reason was the closure of
cinemas worldwide due to the Covid-19
But it also reflects the emergence of
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple as
Netflix is by far the biggest because it
operates in virtually every country and
offers much more than just English-language
For example, it is now the largest
exhibitor of movies made in India, Latin
of hygiene, health and safety and other
matters, which is why substantial time,
money and efforts are invested in the
Saravanaa Bhavan prides itself
of delicacies that cater to the varied
tastes and preferences of the global
community with brand exclusivity.
Among the items in the Restaurants
Menu would be Rice Idly, Vada, Mini
(14 Pcs) Ghee Sambar Idly, Rava Kichadi,
Medhu Vada, Sambar Vada, Rasa
Vada, Curd Vada, Masala Vada, Banana
Bajji, Onion Bajji, Chilli Bajji, Chilli
Bajji, Mysore Bonda, Poori, Uthappam,
Dosa, Parotta, Rasam, Soup of the Day,
Basmati Ka Bandhar, Beverages: Fresh
Juices (Freshly Made In Our Bar).
About Indian food
Indian food is different to that of the
rest of the world not only in taste but
also in cooking methods. It reflects a
perfect blend of various cultures and
Just like Indian culture, food in India
has also been influenced by various
civilisations, which have contributed
their share in its overall development
and the present form.
Indian food is known for its
spiciness. While spices are used widely,
each of them carries medicinal and nutritional
value. For instance, inclusion
of cardamom, cayenne, tamarind and
other pungent ingredients resulting
in combination of taste that have no
America and Asia.
Film-makers in these countries can now
aim at global audiences rather than be
restricted to brief festival opportunities.
A slap on Hollywood
‘Thappad’ (Amazon Prime Video) is
Bollywood’s latest attempt to put Indian
movies on an equal footing with their
The story seems derivative – comparisons
with Netflix’s Marriage Story are
inevitable – while the title (Hindi for slap)
recalls Australian author Christos Tsiolkas’
2011 eight-part TV series, which was
remade in Hollywood in 2015.
The eponymous event occurs at a party
where a Delhi Advertising Executive
(Pavail Gulati) is celebrating his promotion
to a job in London that his wife (Taapsee
Pannu) has long desired.
They have no children but she is
devoted to supporting her husband. This
contrasts with the rival careers at the
centre of Marriage Story.
She pulls him away from an aggressive
argument after he learns from a colleague
the position will still make him answerable
to a British boss.
He reacts violently and her response is
to go into lockdown rather than accept his
The downward spiral in their relationship
worsens when divorce lawyers are
called in, reminiscent of Marriage Story
and its antecedents, Intolerable Cruelty
and The War of the Roses.
Indian social mores add to the complexity
as the wife withstands peer pressure
and copes with a legal system where
saving face triumphs over spousal rights.
Writer-director Anubhav Sinha has
won Indian awards for two previous
movies, Article 15 (2019) and Mulk (2018),
with more likely to come as his reputation
Amazon rating: All ages. 142 minutes.
Nevil Gibson is Movie Reviewer for NZ
Catholic. The above Review has been reprinted
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Bringing the politicians to you in
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Teenager on track to achieve Olympics dream
Aysha Hussan of Auckland joins the
world of talented Muslim women
Aysha Hussan has just begun
a full scholarship at Botany
Downs Secondary College, and
hopes to become a doctor and a
history-making Olympic track athlete for
At just 14, Aysha has already achieved
so much, as the New Zealand face on the
global Muslim women’s Sports Powerlist
Super women from the Muslim world
A promising track athlete and netballer,
Aysha says that she knows it is “a big
achievement” to be on the List with 34
other Muslim women involved in sport
around the world.
The teenager sits proudly alongside
400 m hurdles Olympic Champion
American Dalilah Muhammad, and
Indonesian climber Aries Susanti, the
first woman in the world to climb a
speed wall in under seven seconds.
Then there is Emirati Zahra Lari,
the first international figure skater to
compete wearing a hijab, and her fellow
countrywoman Amna Al Qubaisi, ‘The
Flying Girl’, who was the first Middle
Eastern woman to test drive in Formula
E (that session in Saudi Arabia in 2018
was just months after the country lifted
its ban prohibiting all women from
Aysha Hussan on a 400 m race for AMMI Athletics Club
Although she is yet to rush onto the
world athletics stage, Aysha has set
herself lofty goals.
As well as wanting to be a doctor, it’s
her dream to become the first Muslim
woman to represent New Zealand at an
Olympic Games. “I want to run the 400
m,” says the Year 9 student at Botany
Downs Secondary College in Auckland.
“I have to work hard and keep on
AMMI Athletics Club Track Coach Pawan Marhas
striving, then I can get there one day.”
The people closest to Aysha – her
parents and her coach – say the young
woman may not yet fully realise the
magnitude of being recognised by the
international Muslim Women in Sport
Network, who are behind the Powerlist.
Aysha’s Fijian Indian parents, Susan
and Immran, say that they have always
encouraged their athletic daughter
to play sport, even if it means she has
to wear uniforms with short skirts or
shorts, considered immodest in Islam.
“We are not going to stop her competing
because of the dress code. I know
that there are other Muslim girls who
want to come out and compete, they
have the talent, but their parents will
not let them because of the dress code.
I know that she is a Muslim girl, but I
don’t want to restrict her from doing
the things she’s good at. Her father and
I are both on the same wavelength – she
needs to go ahead and live her life and
do what she’s enjoying,” Susan said.
Aysha said that she would rather have
her arms and legs covered beneath her
netball dress – “the dresses are really
short” – and wear tights instead of track
But that has not deterred her from
Aysha started playing Netball at
seven, and two years later, a Coach who
recognised her speed encouraged her to
Embracing athlete minority
At an open day at Mt Smart Stadium,
the Hussans met Track Coach Pawan
Marhas runs the AMMI Athletics Club
in South Auckland, a Club, which he
said embraces “the athlete minority...
athletes who have a talent but who don’t
have a proper platform where they
feel welcome. They take time to settle
in, and then hopefully compete in the
mainstream,” he said.
Aysha has thrived as a runner. Her
sprint relay team broke records, then
won Gold in the 4 x 100m at the 2018
North Island Colgate Games; last year,
she was the 800 m champion across Year
8 girls in Counties. At 13, she was the
youngest female athlete running at last
year’s Fiji Coca Cola Games – dubbed
the biggest schools athletics event in the
Aysha is now in her first year of a full
Sports Scholarship at Botany Downs
She has been trying to train towards
the school’s cross country championships,
but at Level 3 Lockdown, she
could only run around the block outside
Her school Netball season has been
fitful, and the annual Muslim Netball
Tournament has been called off. But
that has not put her off her goals.
Marhas said that Aysha is dedicated
“According to how she is moving now
and how focused she is on achieving,
I am 100% sure that she will make the
Olympics if she carries on. She just
needs to keep working and she will
become an international athlete,” he
The Importance of Safe Space
Marhas sees many barriers for young
athletes, especially from Muslim and
“At grassroots level, the reality is
they face some discrimination on the
basis of their colour, ethnicity or the
way they dress. It’s a common problem
around the world. I always push for
flexibility and inclusion. I try to involve
the parents and make sure they are on
the field when the kids are working… so
they feel like they’re part of the journey.
Involve the parents, so they are an arm’s
distance away, and the children feel
confident,” he said.
Suzanne McFadden is the Editor of
LockerRoom, dedicated to women’s sport.
The above article and pictures have been
published under a Special Arrangement with
Funds lent since
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