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The English Fortnightly (Since November 1999)

Issue 446 | September 15, 2020 | Free

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Aucklanders weary of demands for lifting Covid restrictions

Venkat Raman

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

next week.

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

lockdown restrictions.

But he cautioned that case numbers

should be carefully watched in the

short-term.

“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

publication.

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

and referenda.

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

week.

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

political.”

“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

Sourced Content

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

graphs.

“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

said.

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

to see.”

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

afterwards.

The above Report has been published under

a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

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02

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Homelink

Researchers tell us how politicians use social media

Supplied Content

Wellington-based Victoria

University researchers

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

Commons.

Weekly findings

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

Supplied Content

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

has announced the offender

responsible for the Christchurch

terror attack on March 15, 2019

has been designated as a terrorist

entity.

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

terrorist acts.

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

from officials.

Details of the designations process

and the statements of case supporting

designation of these entities can be

found on the New Zealand Police

website.

Tarrant carried out the Mosque

attacks in Christchurch on March 15,

2019.

He was sentenced to life in prison

without the possibility of ever leaving

jail.

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

on:

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

weeks)

Monday, October 26, 2020: (data from

17 September–17 October covering four

weeks

the sentence - the harshest available to

the Court.

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,

2019.

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.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi

National List MPbased

in

Manukau East

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1/131 Kolmar Road, Papatoetoe, Auckland

09 278 9302

09 278 2143

bakshi.mp@parliament.govt.nz

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Visa extension helps onshore and offshore migrants

Venkat Raman

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

rules.

“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

said.

He said that he has exercised

the powers vested in him as

Immigration Minister to make

the move.

“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

an exception.

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

visa expires.

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

2020.

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

home.

Temporary migrants by

numbers

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

home.

Eligibility criteria

“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.

However, temporary

migrants who choose to apply

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“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

month.

Concessions to date

These changes build on

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03

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

New Zealand.

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04

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Homelink

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

religion.

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

in Iran.

The results verify Iranian society’s

unprecedented secularisation.

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

the state.

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

media platform.

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

followers, too.

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

presidential elections.

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

as Muslim.

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

spirituality.

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.

Surprising responses

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

older respondents.

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

being “sick”).

In comparison, in a comprehensive

survey conducted

in 1975 before the Islamic

Revolution, over 80% said they

always prayed and observed

the fast.

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,

below 1%.

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

ways.

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

Commons Licence.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Labour proposes public

holiday to mark Matariki

Venkat Raman

Homelink

05

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

has said.

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

event.

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

Ardern said.

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

mid-winter getaways.

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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06

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Electionlink

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

election.

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

Control Bill?

And importantly, is it “referenda” or

“referendums?”

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

not binding.

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

questionable.

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

their concerns.

Booking on Assisted Dying

Freelance Journalist Caralise Trayes

has written a book about the Assisted

Dying Referendum called ‘The Final

Choice.’

She said that there are still blind spots

in many people’s understanding of the

legislation.

“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

Trayes said.

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

Sommer Kapitan

ora, everyone. I am

standing against a blank

wall in my house – because

“Kia

it is the only view in my

house that is not messy.”

So begins a 2020 campaign message

posted by New Zealand Prime Minister

Jacinda Ardern.

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

two-minute video.

She is candid, approachable, tired and

funny.

Facing a resurgence of Covid-19 just

days later, the tone changes to one of

concern.

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

combined.

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

relentlessly positive.

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

school.

Mr Shaw has been hit by a

wave of controversy, after he

championed nearly $12m in

funding for the private Green

School.

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

said.

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

funding.

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,”

she said.

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

to expand.

“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

support renewables.

The above Report and Picture have

been published under a Special

Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

space.

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.

Political TV

Ms Ardern joins a continuum of

media-age communicators who came

to define their political brands via their

preferred platforms.

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

Richard Nixon).

In New Zealand, Robert Muldoon was

the first politician to master the art of

political TV.

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

of 2019.

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

battleground.

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

leadership.

Engagement is everything

The key metric is engagement – the

currency of the social media influencer

world.

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

strategy.

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

University said.

“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

new industry.

The above Report and Picture have been

published under a Special Arrangement with

www.rnz.co.nz

and policy topics and 3.5% on Covid

topics.

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

politician.

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

Electionlink

07

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08

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Electionlink

Electoral war brings the best and worst of parties

Peter Dunne

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

election day.

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

$180,000.

Labour’s determination

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

much.

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

MMP.

National’s Policy based campaign

National, on the other hand, seems

to have opted for a more policy-based

campaign.

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

steady employment.

Youngsters losing the tide

What happens when young people

“miss the tide” and lose these transitions

to adulthood?

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

training (NEET).

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

devastation.

Economic debacle

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

Zoom meetings.

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

challenges.

Confronting challenges

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

employers.

“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

their future.

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

needs.

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

current situation.

While the needs National is

identifying are undoubtedly important

and deserving of attention, they miss

the boat in terms of where the public is

right now.

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

approach.

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

private schools.

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

amply demonstrated.

ACT assured

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

what end.

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

Wellington.

Memes should remain harmless satire out of legislation

Sourced Content

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.

Distasteful politics

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

distasteful.

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

misinformation.

“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

said.

Sarah Austen-Smith (IABC Annual Report)

A ‘distracted boyfriend’ meme lampooning the public’s move towards memes

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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

22,000 likes.

A non-party-aligned page

titled “NZ swing voters against

dogmatic party affiliated memes”

has nearly likes 18,000 likes.

Engagement strategy

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

messaging.

“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

answer.

“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

Electionlink

Politicians pledge more spending with no debt repayment plan

Jane Patterson

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

opponent.

Challenging environment

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

challenging, requirement.

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

economy.

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.

Trading accusations

“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

Venkat Raman

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

multi-cornered contest.

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

destination.

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

of Parliament.

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

(Photo Supplied)

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 Caricature

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

(File Photo)

Party Objectives

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

and Queenstown).

“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

budget.

“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

Sudesh Kissun

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

years.

Core values

“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

09

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

said.

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.

Streamlining immigration

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

marriage.

“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.


10

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Eductionlink

Pandemic Lockdowns impact on NCEA achievements

The downturn worries Principals and Students

John Gerritsen

Some teenagers are warning that the

pandemic has ruined the school year

and the most disadvantaged students

are losing motivation and need more

NCEA changes.

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

not.

“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.

Priyanca

Radhakrishnan

Labour List MP based in Maungakiekie

Maungakiekie Office

09 622 2660

priyanca@parliament.govt.nz

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

NCEA.

But they also warned that disadvantaged

students throughout the country needed more

help.

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.

Post-lockdown problems

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

and racist.

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

good.”

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

students?

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

number puzzles.

One head of mathematics reflected: “There

was no real pathway for students in the bottom

class to come out of that bottom class.”

Damaging self-confidence

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

children’s achievement.

It said that staff wellbeing was the most

commonly cited ongoing challenge for

schools.

“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

special needs.

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

teachers.”

John Gerritsen is Education Correspondent at Radio

New Zealand. The above Report and Picture have

been published under a Special Arrangement with

www.rnz.co.nz

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

challenged.

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

first published.

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.

Potential Ambassadors

These students are potential

ambassadors for Australia and our

institutions.

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

too.

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

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.

Comparing responses

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

world.

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

global comparisons.

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

Melbourne.

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

is bleak.

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

hampers.

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

man.

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

great sadness.

“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

greatly missed.

“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

are confirmed.

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

community.

“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

Island community.

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

Hawaii.

He was involved with the World

Health Organisation and in 2016

received the ‘WHO Award of Appreciation’

for his role in the elimination of

Lymphatic Filariasis.

He was also known for his work in

the fields of eczema, prostate cancer

and diabetes.

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

Islands community.

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

www.rnz.co.nz

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,”

Dhanya says.

She reports that she and many of her

friends in similar situations have been

told they can choose to work as unpaid

interns.

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

Educationlink/Fijilink

11

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

food schemes.

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

to Covid-19.

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

Dougal Sutherland

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

government.

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

therapy, which

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

Licence.


12

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Viewlink

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

levels, remove

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

prospects.’

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

frittered away.

Perils of Office

Please read our frontpage

story- it contains the views of

the Opposition.

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,

temporary visa-holders,

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

temporary visa-holders

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

consideration.

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

next.

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

more efficiently.

Indian Newslink is published by Indian Newslink Limited from its offices located at 299A Riddel Road,

Glendowie, Auckland 1071. All material appearing here and on our web editions are the copyright

of Indian Newslink and reproduction in full or part in any medium is prohibited. Indian Newslink and

its management and staff do not accept any responsibility for the claims made in advertisements.

Managing Director & Publisher: Jacob Mannothra; Editor & General Manager: Venkat Raman;

Production Manager: Mahes Perera; Accountant: Uma Venkatram CA;

Phone: (09) 5336377 Email: info@indiannewslink.co.nz

Websites: www.indiannewslink.co.nz; www.inliba.com; www.inlisa.com

Cannabis should be treated

and regulated as health issue

Peter Dunne

I

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

as such.

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

evidence-based.”

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

criteria completely.

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

change.

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

for purpose.

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?

Unsatisfactory outcomes

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

the brunt.

Increasing inequality

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

gap.

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

will be.

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

concentrate.

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

conclusion.

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

women.

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

Licence.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

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13

A vital link between people, solutions and expertise.

The skills you require and people who can do it.

www.link2services.com


14

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Businesslink

Despite denial, Taiwan leads the world in Covid-19 eradication

The world’s model democracy continues to suffer

global discrimination

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

lives.

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

moment.

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

Covid-19.

We managed this without lockdowns;

schools were only closed for two weeks

in February.

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

A

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

global recovery.

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

world.

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

75th anniversary?”

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

UN system.

Unjust discrimination

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.

Resilient economy

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

humanity.

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

disaster prevention.

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.

Widespread denial

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

empty words.

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

information-sharing.

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

Manish Chand

Indian Naval Ship Kesari on the country’s

‘Mission SAGAR’

Dynamic Touch: Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

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

small.

From US President Donald Trump

to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni,

leaders around the world have

appreciated India’s timely assistance

against a merciless pandemic.

Mission SAGAR

The pandemic-related assistance

also reaffirmed India’s credentials as

the first responder to humanitarian

crises and a net security provider in

the region.

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

every day

ered assistance to India’s maritime

neighbours.

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

Comoros.

India also sent medical teams to

Maldives, Mauritius, Comoros and

Kuwait to support them deal with

the pandemic.

Self-reliant India

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.

Diplomatic Outreach

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

countries.

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

region.

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

developing countries.

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,

2021.

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

Samriddhi (Prosperity).

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,

New Zealand.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

High yielding bonds do not evince public interest

FMA publishes Investor Guide

to improve awareness

Supplied Content

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

KiwiSaver.

FMA Manager (Investor Capability)

Gillian Boyce

Gillian Boyes said that bonds are not

limited to big institutional investors.

Everyday investors can use them to

diversify their portfolios and spread

their risk.

Mitigating risks

“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

KiwiSaver.

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

Health.

Influencing factors

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

clear answers.

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

STAT article.

“We really need to try to understand

all of this structural discrimination,” he

said.

The Study quantified Covid-19 cases

from Massachusetts’ 351 cities and

towns.

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

said.

An extract from the Study

Across Massachusetts’ cities and

towns, Latino and Black communities

are experiencing much higher rates of

Covid-19 cases.

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

Massachusetts.

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

individuals (30.7%).

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

status.

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

Simon Tormey

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

coming.

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

outlook.

He is regularly photographed

in a pair of “budgie smugglers”

with surfboard under arm at

his beloved Queenscliff beach in

Manly, Sydney.

Reconstructed Australian

Chauvinist

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

quarters?

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

or after.

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

explanation.

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

“offensive realism.”

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

administration.

Unapologetic warrior

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.

Cultural conflict

The question remains then, what

possible use are all these associations

to Johnson?

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

electoral politics.

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

Businesslink

15

funds could hold between 10% to 37%

in fixed income assets, which include

bonds.

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.

Charge analysis.

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

COVID-19.

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

Harvard Gazette.

voters who don’t normally vote for

the right.

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

Licence.


16

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Businesslink

Bipartisan support underscores child development

Kieran Madden

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

older children.

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.

Two-prolonged approach

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

and attractive.

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.

Starting right

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

upscale production.

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

direct investments.

Holistic approach

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

competence.

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

same canopy.

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.

Equal opportunities

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

as well.

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

foreign products.

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

Indian industry.

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

sectors.

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

under OFB.

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.

Immediate effect

To boost domestic production, the

government has imposed an import

Conversely, volatile, cold, and absent

relationships mean children are overloaded

by developmental-hampering

“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

policy-makers have.”

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

through MSMEs.

INR 20 billion for fishermen through

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada

Yojana.

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

preparations.

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

has said.

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

Term 4.

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

programmes.

Should they be universal or targeted?

Cash payments or in-kind products and

services?

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

domestic production.

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

Supplied Content

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

Hipkins said.

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

Excellence.

Immediate relief

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

Businesslink

Religious diversity makes Taiwan the second best in the world

Oscar Chung

As a world leader in promoting

religious freedom, Taiwan is

providing a home for people of

all faiths.

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

religious exchanges.

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

Universe Church.

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

guaranteed.

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

significant following.

Illustration by Lin Hsin-chieh

Pusin Tali

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

do so.

Eliminating barriers

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

services.

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

disaster relief.

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

world.

Stabilising influence

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,”

he said.

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.

Hospitable Environment

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

17

organisations in other nations to share

its successful transformation and play

its part in improving religious freedom

worldwide.

Potomac Plan

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

Taipei.

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: mhchung@mofa.gov.tw

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Communitylink

Onam brings harmony and festive spirit among communities

Venkat Raman

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

‘Mahabali.’

‘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

India 2019

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.

Multicultural Society

“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

Samajam 2019

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

responsible citizens.

“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

community.

Samajam President Gopal Ayyar

said that it is politically agnostic and

non-partisan.

“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,

Staff Reporter

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

affected.

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

Qamar said.

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

targeting.

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

Sergeant

Gurpreet Arora

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

family harm.

Increasing interaction

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

affect them.

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

on 111.

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-

584

Our Staff Reporter adds:

Rising Menace

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

for?”

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

after 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

District Police.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Communitylink

Nature prompts humanity to seek love in a pandemic world

Pranoti Gupta

Love is deep inner strength, faith

and appreciation.

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

challenges.

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

happiness.

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.

19

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

Staff Reporter

Selfie’ feature introduced

to ensure drivers

are wearing masks

‘Mask

Ola, one of the

world’s largest rideshare platforms,

has launched ‘Selfie Authentication’

technology to ensure that its drivers

are wearing masks while carrying

passengers.

These measures are a part of the

company’s policy to protect drivers and

riders.

The move forms Ola’s ‘new normal’

operating procedure.

An Ola driver’s selfie being authenticated

(Picture Supplied)

Rajasekhara Reddy fans

donate blood in Auckland

Venkat Raman

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

anniver-sary.

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

Yeddula said.

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

Peddareddy (Tadipatri).

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

Chandrapati.

“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

enemies.

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

made mandatory.

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

Authentication’ software.

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

match.

Disciplinary procedure

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

appropriate.

Ola New Zealand Managing Director

Brian Dewil said that the move is to

ensure safety.

“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

Arena Williams

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.

Unique partnership

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

Mama Potoru).

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.

World-leading response

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

for direction.”

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

working.”

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

training.

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

Auckland.


20

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Entertainmentlink

Another innovative approach to safety at Saravanaa Bhavan

The international brand

serves an extensive

array of dishes

Venkat Raman

Diners and those ordering

takeaway dishes at Saravanaa

Bhavan in Auckland City will

find new safety measures

that are not only innovative but also

reassuring.

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

is available for customers. Please

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

cuisine.

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

Bride Wanted

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

recent months.

Public Debate

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.

our

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

unconfirmed reports.

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

allegations.

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

against her.

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

Nevil Gibson

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

company.

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

its own.

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

pandemic.

But it also reflects the emergence of

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple as

movie producers.

Netflix is by far the biggest because it

operates in virtually every country and

offers much more than just English-language

movies.

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

initial preparations.

The Menu

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

ages.

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

parallel.

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

international peers.

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

forgiveness.

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

spreads abroad.

Amazon rating: All ages. 142 minutes.

Nevil Gibson is Movie Reviewer for NZ

Catholic. The above Review has been reprinted

with permission.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Entertainmentlink

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22

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Sportslink

Teenager on track to achieve Olympics dream

Aysha Hussan of Auckland joins the

world of talented Muslim women

Suzanne McFadden

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

New Zealand.

At just 14, Aysha has already achieved

so much, as the New Zealand face on the

global Muslim women’s Sports Powerlist

for 2020.

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

driving).

Aysha Hussan

Aysha Hussan on a 400 m race for AMMI Athletics Club

Lofty goals

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.

Parental encouragement

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

shorts.

But that has not deterred her from

competing.

Aysha started playing Netball at

seven, and two years later, a Coach who

recognised her speed encouraged her to

try athletics.

Embracing athlete minority

At an open day at Mt Smart Stadium,

the Hussans met Track Coach Pawan

Marhas.

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

world.

Aysha is now in her first year of a full

Sports Scholarship at Botany Downs

College.

Covid-19 restrictions

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 home.

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

and focused.

“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

said.

The Importance of Safe Space

Marhas sees many barriers for young

athletes, especially from Muslim and

Sikh communities.

“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

Newsroom.

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