Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Hamilton’ Category

Young Labour Find Hamilton Roots

Posted by on January 21st, 2013

Yesterday Young Labour was in Hamilton West for the second leg of their Clarion Tour.

The Clarion tour is named after the famed Clarion Cycling Club, which consisted of a group of dedicated British political activists who rode around the English countryside in the 1890s talking about their vision for a better and fairer society.

Young Labour are following this tradition: travelling around New Zealand living out Labour values.

In Hamilton Young Labour and I went to the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. We got out there and did what we call the “Pukeko stomp” where we release the newly planted native plants from the faster growing grass and weeds. It is an essential park of the community vision to provide both a home for Tui and a great location of community education and recreation.

Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is the first step in the much needed restoration of native bush in the Waikato. From the 1820s European settlers began arriving in the area paving the way for the famous land clearances of the 1860s. It was clearing and draining of the land that gave the region much of the open pasture land we are renowned for today.

But it also destroyed all but 1% of the wetland once widespread in the region and meant native New Zealand birds were all but banished from Hamilton.

As with any story what struck Young Labour and I was how great community initiatives like Waiwhakareke are determined by abstract decisions about priorities. The Hamilton City Council lost millions of ratepayer’s money when it made the ill-fated decision 48 to bring the V8s to Hamilton. I fear it will be great initiatives like Waiwhakareke that may bear the brunt of Council attempts to recover that money. Pensioner housing units have already been sold off in a short-sighted attempt to reduce the city’s debt.

You can check out the other great community projects Young Labour are undertaking from West Auckland to Christchurch at clariontour.co.nz.


Clarion Tour in Hamilton

Posted by on January 23rd, 2011
Half of the group painting the fence - the other half were inside doing other jobs.

Neil and I with half of the group painting the fence while the other half were inside doing different work.

On Tuesday night a van adorned with Labour stickers pulled up in Hamilton full of Young Labourites on their Clarion Tour. As Trevor and Grant said, they’re heading throughout the country (Orewa to Queenstown) doing community service. Some are on leave from work and others are on their Summer break from uni.

Point is, they’re doing good deeds and helping out the community groups that give so much to their local areas. These groups deserve the break and to know that we notice their efforts.

After a night of Sing Star (they let the local Labour MP win – good politics) we were at the Western Community Centre in Nawton. They painted fences, removed tagging and got items ready for the community noticeboard.

The Western Community Centre is an important fixture in Nawton. It’s a low socio-economic neighbourhood where families are struggling with extra GST costs, raised doctors fees and unaffordable increases in early childhood education fees.

I’ll have similar energy to Young Labour’s to win back Hamilton West because they need an MP and a Labour Government to stand up for them.

Thanks, Young Labour. I hear they were on the ferry to South Island this afternoon. You can follow them on facebook, twitter and at www.clariontour.co.nz.


Tax Swindle Leaves 38% in Waikato worse off

Posted by on October 18th, 2010

So says the front page of Saturday’s Waikato Times, after they polled 180 readers on the subject.

only 12% felt they were any better off, 38% worse off and 33% unchanged. Some readers said John Key has lost their vote over the GST increase.

And just to show how out of touch those on big incomes are with reality, a partner of Deloitte Hamilton says people just had to “reprioritise.”

“You can choose whether or not to spend money and therefore pay tax,” he said.

Really? Choose not to buy groceries, pay the power bill, pay for petrol, pay the rent? This man has no idea that low and middle-income families spend all they earn on just getting by.

His out-of-touch comments reflect arrogant National Party thinking. Guess he must be in the 12% laughing at the expense of the other 88%.


Letting in Riff-Raff- and its great!.

Posted by on August 3rd, 2010

Riff Raff

Richard O’Brien, creator of the cult classic the Rocky Horror Show appears to have being granted residency in New Zealand, so Sue Moroney and I took a few minutes out in Hamilton today to celebrate with his alter-ego, Riff-Raff who has been immortalised by the city.

He has been granted an exception to policy, and while some people might have concerns, on the face of it seems reasonable. O’Brien lived in New Zealand for about 12 years during his adolesence and early twenties. He returned to NZ often as his parents remained here until they passed away a few years ago. His siblings still live here, and he owns property.

The Rocky Horror Show was a huge part of my growing up. Along with a group of friends we were kind of obsessed with the show, and to this day I can just about remember almost all the words (sad I know). We saw sit live a couple of times in the 80s with Rob Muldoon and Billy T James fulfilling the roles of the Narrator. I also remember a particularly boisterous screening of the film one Friday evening, that culminated in a mass confetti and water fight both inside and outside the theatre.

It is a total classic, and fantastic that it was written by a New Zealander. Richard O’Brien once said it was based on his experiences in Hamilton and Tauranga in the 1960s. Who knew they were that interesting….


The Nat Love Affair with Helicopters

Posted by on July 27th, 2010

What is it about National’s Tertiary Education Ministers and Helicopters?

First off, we had Anne Tolley taking the tertiary sector literally when they suggested she should take a “helicopter view” of the sector -she had them stump up for a costly ride in a chopper over Auckland.

Now, we have Steven Joyce telling the country that he would prefer fund helicopter trips for commuters between Hamilton and Auckland than to subsidise a passenger train service between the two cities.

He seemed to have borrowed Simon Power’s strategy of heavily inflating the cost to the taxpayer, so he could justify his idealogical postition against trains and for more and more roads. Joyce claimed the  train would cost $15-16,000 per trip which is complete rubbish.

Power used this tactic to try to justify the closing down of Hamilton’s successful trial youth justice facility, Te Hurihanga.

Maybe they just think people can’t do maths in Hamilton. Sonething of a miscalculation, if you excuse the pun.


PPPs spells Poor Pupil Peformance for Education

Posted by on July 21st, 2010

Some of you will know that I’m a betting woman and I’m willing to wage a bet that the long-awaited new North East Hamilton secondary school will be on the list of  school properties being prepared for a Private Public Partnership.

When in Government, Labour was prepared to go down the PPP path, where it could be demonstrated that it made good economic and social sense. But it never did. And it still doesn’t.

The private sector wants its hands on this school building ownership so it can make a buck out of the taxpayer.

And while they make a buck out of it, education will lose out. Not to mention the loss of control by the school and lack of access to school properties by the community.

Its another bad plan from a Government that has already run out of ideas. It is now reduced to following failed models from other countries – a bit like national standards really.

 It has been a disaster in the UK and it will be here too.


2nd World Ambition for NZ

Posted by on May 5th, 2010

They used to be ambitious for New Zealand – but that was before the election.

Now, Hamilton’s National MPs say that “New Zealand is now a second world country and can only expect second world care and facilities.”

That’s what Tim MacIndoe and David Bennett told the Midland’s Region of the NZ Nurses’ Organisation when they visited them in Novemebr 2009.

Ruth Dyson sought leave to table the NZNO Newsletter containing the two MPs comments in Parliament today and it looked like she was about to get it. The Leader of the House didn’t object, nor any of their front bench.

However, from the murky depths of the National back bench an objection finally did emerge – from David Bennett.

Seems they think they can say one thing in Wellington and something else in Hamilton.


Solidarity Forever

Posted by on April 27th, 2010

This post is the first in a series (I hope) of updates on the progress of my horse, the aptly named “Solidarity,” who first entered Labour Party folklore when he won a race during the Mt Albert by-election campaign.

At the time, we were all stuck in Parliament on a Saturday debating the super city legislation under urgency. For a bit of light relief I convinced a number of my colleagues to put $5 each into a group bet on Solidarity. The proceeds from our well-timed winning bet were donated to the Labour campiagn in Mt Albert and David Shearer subsequently bolted in.

I put it all down to the the great “karma” Solidarity generated when he “bolted in” that day at Te Rapa.

Anyway, Soli kicked off his 2010 Melbourne Cup campaign (he didn’t make it in 08 or 09 but this could be his BIG year) at Tauranga on Saturday and he nearly won!

He came in second and was beaten by a short neck (that’s the margin, not the name of the horse).

But here’s the exciting bit – this race was all wrong for him.  It was run on a hard track over 1400m. To date, he’s been at his best on a soft track over 2100m.

Did I mention what a great name he has?


Petition to Protest Youth Justice Closure

Posted by on February 16th, 2010

There have been a number of posts from Jacinda on the stupidity of the Government closing down the Te Hurihanga youth justice facility in Hamilton.

Essentially, the facility has been working with some of our young men who are the worst offenders and are on the pathway to a life of serious crime. It has had extrodinary success rates in the three years  of the programme’s pilot, with none of the graduates offending in the first 10 months since they completed the programme.

If you agree with us that this is a shortsighted decision, then you can fill out the petition launched by a local Hamilton woman, aimed at reversing the funding cut.

The petitioner came to my office in Hamilton to seek advice on how to go about doing a petition. When I asked her what her motivation was she said “I just think everyone deserves a second chance.”

She has had no involvement with the programme, but is a fair-minded Hamiltonian who thinks the decision stinks. I’m with her on that!

Te Hurihanga Petition


Hamilton Election Promise Broken Already

Posted by on February 9th, 2010

“Promise on Road Project Broken” screams the front page of the Waikato Times today. It was being delivered to homes all over the Waikato just as John Key was delivering his speech outlining his Government’s programme for the year ahead. How appropriate!

The NZ Transport Agency came to Hamilton yesterday to deliver the news that the Hamilton leg of the expressway is now not scheduled for completion until 2024. The problem is that the Nats made an election promise to complete the Waikato Expressway inside ten years – that is by 2018.

The other problem is that the Minister has reversed the order of construction so that the Hamilton by-pass comes last. That will create a bottleneck effect as the construction takes place to the north and the south of Hamilton first.

It means larger volumes of traffic will be delivered to congested Hamilton streets until 2024.

It looks like the Hamilton Government National MPs, David Bennett and Tim MacIndoe lack the influence and the ability to get their major election promise delivered.

Oddly enough, even though John Key used his speech to announce the Kopu Bridge replacement for the 11th time, the Waikato Expressway didn’t feature in his speech at all today. Hmmmmm………curious.


Hamilton Passenger Train Service Gathers Steam

Posted by on December 2nd, 2009

Around 100 people attended a public meeting in Hamilton last night to discuss the proposal to get a passenger train service for commuters between Hamilton and Auckland.

The meeting was hosted by the Campaign for Better Transport and the business case for the train service is well-established.

Unfortunately, Nanaia Mahuta and I are the only local MPs supporting the train service – the two National MPs told the meeting all the reasons it shouldn’t go ahead.

The National Party rhetoric goes something like this:

*Hamilton is too small to sustain the service;

*Hamilton should be grateful that it is getting funding for an expressway;

*Waikato Mayors just want the expressway completed in 10 years time instead;

* There is a private bus company that commuters could use.

Their arguments don’t stack up. Masterton and Palmerston North have passenger train services to Wellington and they are a lot smaller than Hamilton.

The expressway, when completed at a cost of $2b in 10 years time, will save 10 minutes on the journey to Auckland – that is until Waikato cars get to the Southern Motorways and sit in traffic jams for ages!

The Waikato Mayors have always argued for a balanced transport system for the region and they didn’t anticipate the Government was going to cut city public transport funding for Hamilton to fund the expressway as they have.

Oh duh… the buses to Auckland get caught in the traffic jams too.

I reckon the real reason David Bennett and Tim MacIndoe are talking the proposal down is they agree with the Don Brash Taskforce comissioned by John Key when it recommended the sale of state assets.

KiwiRail will be the first up for sale and they won’t want a whole lot of Hamilton commuters up in arms when they sell it off.


Open Country Cheese – exec meeting

Posted by on October 15th, 2009

Spent part of the morning with the Dairy Workers’ Union including some of the delegates from  Open Country Cheese.

Heard a lot about the dispute especially the role of Talleys’ the employer with the worst record under the ECA. Some shocking incidents and a very poor approach from the company.

Those examples will be very useful in developing legislation. I’m surprised that Business NZ or other employer groups have not taken them in hand.

Because the session was in committee can’t say much about it but hope to be able to say more soon.


Smoking, Alcohol and Pregnancy

Posted by on October 14th, 2009

Recently, a local bar in Hamilton advertised a P-Party to students which enticed them to dress up and drink at their establishment.
Happens all the time. Only this bar used the image of a naked, smoking, pregnant woman to advertise this event.
I think the association of drinking and smoking with pregnancy as an advertising ploy is abhorrent and severly undermines the interests of children.
Perhaps other people find it attracive enough to entice them to go drinking at the establishment.
What do others think.


Education cuts don’t add up

Posted by on September 16th, 2009

The Government has cut valuable education programmes like night classes and the enviro schools programme because it says it wants to use those funds for improving literacy and numeracy.

Imagine how surprised Literacy Waikato was when that same Government cut its funding last month.

When I took Labour leader Phil Goff to meet with the Hamilton-based literacy service recently, they were still perplexed about how the Government rhetoric could be so misleading.

With 25 part-time paid tutors and 35 volunteer tutors all trained to high professional standards, they offer highly-effective literacy classes for adults in our community. They regularly see lives turned around and opportunities opened up through the work they do.

And yet, the Government has cut the funding to its parent organisation, Literacy Aotearoa, by $600,000. The impact on Literacy Waikato could be in the order of $100,000 less funding at a time when the Government is supposed to be prioritising literacy.

I believe that night classes involving everything from cooking through to parenting classes do contribute to better literacy and numeracy.

Phil Goff and I also visited Hamilton East Primary School to see their fantastic environmental programme. It certainly taught literacy and numeracy skills in a hands-on practical way. The children showed an enthusiasm for their projects that would put most maths lessons to shame. And yet, the Government has pulled the funding from the Hamilton-based unit that supports schools across New Zealand to develop and sustain these excellent programmes.

It just doesn’t add up.

Is the Government just using the “literacy and numeracy” line as an excuse to make severe and short-sighted cuts across our precious education system? If the funding from those cuts is supposed to be going into literacy, then why is that funding being cut too?

And why do private schools deserve an increase in funding at the same time as the vast majority of ordinary New Zealanders have their education programmes cut?

Just don’t get me started on how short-sighted it is for the Government to force hundreds of people in Hamilton onto the unemployment benefit instead of giving them the opportunity to further their education at the University of Waikato or Wintec by capping the student numbers.

In just 10 months, this Government has our education system in a state of turmoil.


Public transport freeze hits Hamilton

Posted by on September 9th, 2009

This week, the Waikato Regional Passenger Transport Committee got the bad news from the New Zealand Transport Agency that the funding that had been destined for public transport has been “redirected” by the Government into building more roads.

I must admit that I felt sorry for the councillors as I watched their discomfort at hearing this news.

I imagine some of them felt a bit conflicted, because they had argued so vigorously for the Waikato Expressway to be the top transport priority for the region.

I could see the realisation of how that campaign has been used against them start to dawn on their faces.

However, they are not to blame. They chose that priority for the region when Labour was in Government and they were never going to have to sacrifice one for the other. Labour’s committment to progressively improving public transport had enabled Hamilton’s bus patronage to increase by 9% per annum in recent years.

With the change in Government, this has all changed. The Government funding for public transport for the region will only increase by 3% next year and then will be frozen for the next two years.

With 9% growth in the use of buses in Hamilton, this means that either services will have to be cut and/or passenger fares will have to increase significantly.

Both options will force people off buses and back into their cars. Smart eh?

It also makes it virtually impossible for the Hamilton to Auckland passenger train service to be established even if the proposed trial is successful.

What a great leap backwards.


Red Alert in the House

Posted by on August 7th, 2009

I thought you’d like to see a bit of Red Alert getting a mention. It was really useful to have your comments of support for the Hamilton-Auckland Rail – it just goes to show the worth of the interaction on this blog.

Unfortunately I found out later via Clare Curran’s post that a blog written about John Key’s growing nose had won the coveted ‘most commented blog post’ title. Trevor seems to have a penchant for all things ‘Red Alert’.


Why do the Nats Hate Rail so Much?

Posted by on August 5th, 2009

The National Party’s hatred of public transport has been exposed in the Waikato, with their Hamilton-based MPs arguing against a Hamilton City Council proposal to establish a passenger train service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Now why would local MPs argue against adding an additional service for local people, particularly when a recent survey showed 85% support from ratepayers to subsidise such a service? Very curious.

Now, before bloggers trot out the Crosby-Textor line about how much Kiwirail cost to buy back remember that we had to buy it back  because the Nats sold it in the first place so it doesn’t wash as a the reason why they are so opposed a passenger transport service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Nat MP David Bennett’s contention that he doesn’t want a diesel train polluting the atmosphere doesn’t stack up given that the proposal would take 70+ cars off the road each day and that he is in the thick of fast-tracking a rule change that allows juggernaut diesel-pumping trucks on our roads that are simply not built to carry those weights.

On that issue, both Waipa District Council and Environment Waikato have voted to oppose the juggernaut rule change. Both Waipa and Waikato District Council’s noted the pressure coming from Government to stop promoting rail when they debated their positions on the rule change. You can sense how intimidated the councils were feeling by reading the Waikato Times article here.

For the record, Hamilton is our fourth-largest city and it is 120kms away from Auckland (largest city). Now where else in the developed world would you find that situation with a railway line between the two, the Government owning the railways and the train but still no passenger train service between the two?

So, who is prepared to hazard a guess on the real reason the Nats oppose rail transport.