TPPA people power protests

The protests against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) yesterday were an energetic show of people power. It was great to see such a big turnout – at least 15,000 in Auckland by some estimates. That’s a lot of people not buying the National Government’s spin on the TPPA. I was at the Auckland protests […]

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Reflections from the Inquiry on Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism in Schools

This year I had a huge breakthrough in getting the Education and Science Select Committee to open an inquiry to investigate the identification of and support for students facing the significant challenges of dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders. We put the call out for submissions and were overwhelmed by the response. On the very […]

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Holding onto Pacific Culture and Language?

The Minister for Pacific Affairs is supporting the value of Tuvalu’s language and culture this week – but in words, not deeds. Despite Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga stating he’s “committed to creating opportunities to share and promote Pacific cultures,” the value of Pacific heritage is consistently being undermined. A single celebratory week does little to […]

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Professional development of teachers will fix poverty, huh?

The Minister of Education Hekia Parata recently acknowledged the hardship of “persistent under underachievement and poor employment outcomes”. Her solution is to roll out targeted Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for teachers in Northland and East Coast. Like Hekia, I think PLD is very important, but we don’t think that targeting the teachers in regions […]

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Coromandel rallies against the TPPA

  On Wednesday, John Key visited the southern Coromandel area with local National MP Scott Simpson and was challenged by citizens who spontaneously organised protests against the Government position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I went down to Waihi expecting a handful of people but in fact there were 50 locals, many of […]

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Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large increases in cow numbers are resulting in excess nitrogen and thus pollution in water ways. […]

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Smarter thinking, not bigger thinking, needed to manage our water resources

Right now there is a perfect storm for some farmers, but no rain. Drought and commodity prices are hitting hard and creating stress. This is not a new experience, but if drought in particular becomes the new normal, pressure on water resources will increase. It is a challenge to everyone but particularly in Canterbury and […]

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Dirty dairying: more cows at the expense of clean water

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Last week, another dairy farmer, this time in Taranaki, was fined $66,000 for recidivist water pollution when he discharged cow effluent into groundwater and a stream. The judge said the farmer’s offending was “wilful, blind and his attitude was negligent in the extreme”. Despite Federated Farmers saying this was terribly unusual, this farmer is not […]

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Miners oppose my rivers clean up Bill

Last week the Local Government and Environment Select Committee started hearings on my Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill. Most of the submissions support the Bill because it will clean up rivers and provide certainty, however not the mining industry. The mining and petroleum industries submitted against the Bill […]

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Christchurch schools – proposals or promises?

At the schools rally in Christchurch on Tuesday, Board Members and parents were talking about the promise broken by the Minister of Education. A number of schools such as Central New Brighton and Branston Intermediate had been clearly told they would have until the end of 2014 to prepare for merger or closure. The announcement […]

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Good, bad, and ugly: Exide to close

I feel quite conflicted about the announcement that Exide will close its controversial battery recycling facility in Petone next month because the Government is exporting lead batteries overseas and depriving them of business. On the one hand, the plant has a shocking history of resource consent breaches, dangerous waste disposal, and toxic pollution. It’s located […]

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Will Alasdair Thompson’s “damage control” help close the gender pay gap?

A Green-friendly employer and EMA member just sent me this (recipient details removed). I presume it has been sent to all EMA member employers today: If Alasdair Thompson has really had the epiphany he proclaims after a day to cogitate on the reaction to his outrageous comments, then perhaps he might like to reconsider the […]

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