This year I have been focused on getting a better deal for kids and families with learning needs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum. We had a Select Committee inquiry into the issues faced, but the Government was too scared to make the recommendations needed for actual change. Despite initiating the inquiry, I was […]
The death of Fidel Castro is a huge historical moment for the older generation who grew up with the toppling of Batista, the Bay of Pigs debacle, the death of Che Guevara and the US blockade against Cuba.
When Environment Minister Nick Smith said in Parliament that some waterways – like Auckland’s Lucas Creek – are not worth saving because no-one wants to swim in them, he forgot to ask the locals we met last week who have put hours of work into restoring Lucas Creek river to health for their community so that it is safe to swim in once more.
The proposed Education (Update) Bill is the Government’s statement about what the point of education is, and what it means to people. This week we had a day of Select Committee hearings in Auckland on the Bill. It’s a huge and complex piece of legislation. Some changes are sensible but it’s marred by some very […]
We need an education system that caters to all children, as is their human right.
The fifth river in our Swimmable Rivers tour is an urban river on the North Shore called Lucas Creek, which runs from the outer suburban edge near Paremoremo through to the Waitemata harbour. The river came to our attention when Dr Nick Smith, the Minister for the Environment, named it in Parliament as a very polluted […]
When the death of Leonard Cohen was announced, it felt like the last straw in a tempestuous week. Leonard wrote many prophetic songs about the USA. He described a chaotic future which, as of this week, seems to have grown closer. The election of a racist, misogynist who denies climate change can seem far away […]
Last week Gareth and I went rafting down a rapid past local rangatahi swimming in this pristine fresh water of the upper Tarawera River.
On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic.
Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is painfully clear to the people I meet as I travel around the country, visiting rivers […]
Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues in some schools for some children with learning support needs and children whose behaviour has […]
One of the problems with the recycled racism campaign launched last week by Don Brash is that the pressure goes on for a Māori response.
The nationwide swimmable rivers tour went west this week to the Taranaki community of Waitara. Waitara was once a densely populated food gathering area with magnificent coastal reefs of kaimoana and a stony-bottomed tidal river full of fish.
Last Thursday the disability and education communities held a rally at Parliament calling for proper funding for inclusive education.
On Wednesday night my Members’ Bill to stop the Public Works Act taking any more Māori land was voted down by the National Government. This is not the end of the campaign to raise awareness that the Public Works Act can still take Māori land.
Alongside the massive problem of 10 million cattle and their waste entering our waterways, is the lesser but vexed issue of human waste. All over the country, councils struggle with developing wastewater systems that actually work and do not pollute the environment. Success is very mixed because disposal of wastewater and solids to land or […]
This week is Conservation Week. We all benefit from conservation, so we all must play a part in protecting our future. 10 conservation questions with Catherine Delahunty, Green MP.
I had a good friend who worked at Parliament in various roles in the catering services over a number of years. I saw her almost every day. She always made me and many other people feel welcome and she went to extra effort to make sure we received quality service. She was also a really […]
We may never know exactly what happened to the Havelock North water supply, but either way, how about stopping the pollution of rivers by sewage plants and intensive agriculture?
This week, we had our second stop on our Swimmable Rivers tour, this time in Canterbury at the Waikirikiri/Selwyn River. I had a great day with our two Canterbury MPs Eugenie Sage and Mojo Mathers and our amazing Christchurch staff. The Waikirikiri/ Selwyn rivers runs from the hills to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the plains. […]
The cause of the contamination in Havelock’s water remains unclear. It has been established that bacterial contamination from a ruminant animal (cow, deer, or sheep) resulted in people becoming ill. We also know heavy rain and surface flooding occurred just before the outbreak, and prior to that warm and dry conditions had caused cracks to form […]
Last week my campaign for this chemical to be reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) took another step forward. After many months of waiting, the EPA have agreed that triclosan needs to be reassessed. Triclosan is an ingredient in many household products and most people have never heard of it. It is found in some […]
Yesterday there was a big meeting about the future of Salisbury School, a Nelson residential school for teenage girls with complex needs. The school is threatened with closure despite the High Court affirming the value of the school and despite endless testimonials of their contribution by former students and parents across the country. The Government […]
This week I went to Canterbury to meet a river, the Waikirikiri/Selwyn, which flows from the hill country down to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the Canterbury Plains. Mojo Mathers and local Green District Councillor for Selwyn Peter Hill took me for a drive out to Coe’s Ford as the best place to start.
Last Thursday, we carried out our first river tour day in the Swimmable Rivers campaign, in which we are calling on the Government to raise the minimum standard for rivers from wadeable to swimmable. The Ruamāhanga is the river of Metiria’s tupuna and the heart of the Wairarapa. It has some magical spots and some […]
National have two flagship education policies which they have been pushing since 2008. A great deal of public money has been spent on both. Charter schools and National Standards are central to their strategy of supporting education as a business opportunity and focusing on measurement and assessment rather than learning. Both these policies have serious […]
Margaret Spencer, a family carer who has looked after her son who has Down’s Syndrome for 47 years, has finally won backpay after years of struggle. Family members such as Margaret who care for their disabled children should be paid the same as non-family carers, otherwise it is discrimination. She has finally beaten the Ministry […]
The Ruamahānga is a beautiful river, much loved by those who live near it. But it faces many pressures. South of Masterton, the river is affected by sewage issues and land use intensification that have reduced water clarity and made the river unsafe for swimming, particularly at The Cliffs, a scenic spot near a vineyard straight out of a tourist brochure. Unfortunately, the water has a D rating. You risk getting a nasty bug if you put your head under.
A week is not enough but it can be a spring board to taking steps towards our national language, the first language of Aotearoa. So far it has been tau kē! We had the celebratory hīkoi through Te Upoko o Te Ika, hundreds of excited tamariki, waiata, haka and Te Reo kōrero. We heard that cute […]
In 2011, I negotiated an agreement with the National Government to advance work on cleaning up contaminated sites across the country. This included establishing a National Register of the ten worst sites where the creators of the problem could not be held accountable.
For many New Zealanders the loss of swimmable rivers and the effects of intensive agriculture are big issues and they want it cleaned up. William Rolleston is running lines that no one believes and which do Federated Farmers reputation no good at all. Denying that 62 percent of our monitored rivers are too dirty for safe swimming is pointless.
On Friday a Green crew walked with the peace hīkoi from Ōkato to Parihaka. Some of us were from Parliament and some were party members from Taranaki and further afield. It was a cloudy but gentle day and at one point Taranaki maunga emerged in snowy splendour to urge us on. We had some excellent conversations about peace and justice based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Saving rivers cannot be put in the too hard basket and I am looking forward to meeting water activists across country so we can support your efforts. Clean water is well worth this effort, it’s essential that we clean up rivers and make them swimmable again!
Last night I watched a fascinating programme about the Otago University 45 year study of 1000 New Zealanders. It concluded that there are ways to intervene and support people who are at risk of becoming violent. One of the key findings was that early positive intervention could help our youngest people develop self awareness and […]
Budget 2016 is another step towards the free public education system being a memory from the past.
A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and prioritise a plan for swimmable rivers.
This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a great panel of speakers from a range of backgrounds. I was unsure how concerned people would […]
On Wednesday and Sunday of last week the local residents of the Karangahake mountain in the Karangahake gorge of Hauraki/Coromandel peacefully protested against a gold mining drill rig on private land adjacent to the DOC land. The drilling rig was temporarily shut down and 5 people have been issued trespass notices. The company doing this […]
Most of the racist semi-abusive letters and emails that we receive at the Greens seem to be from older people. How can I tell? Possibly it’s the handwritten letters, usually from Tauranga or Canterbury, in the formal style we were taught at school many years ago. I answer these politely as the Pākehā Te Tiriti […]
Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year it was combined with another unique annual event, the Roger Awards, a competition for the […]