VOTE 2014

Why Should I Vote For You was an interesting activity. All up I emailed 166 electoral candidates, in return I received 30 completed responses across 19 electorates. I was surprised to only receive one response from a National candidate. I was really surprised by how difficult it was to find contact email addresses for the Internet Party. Internet Mana as a whole proved to be impossible to contact.

A few people then asked me to summarise the party policies as they related to issues such as Health, Education, Climate Change, Income Inequality, Child Poverty, Jobs and the Arts.

Challenge accepted I thought.

I didn’t realise what a large call this would be. In the end I ran out of time to do everyone, but I did manage to do Labour and National based on the policy information available on their websites.

If you’re not wanting to vote for either party then I would consider it this way – a vote for the Conservatives, Act, United Future is a vote for a National led Government. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour led Government. NZ First is also quite possibly a vote for Labour – but lets be real, it’s Winston he’s an unknown. Internet Mana is a left vote but Labour and the Greens have said that they will not work with them in no uncertain terms. A vote for the Maori Party is historically a vote for National but really it’s a vote for Maori – they just want to sit at the table of government, regardless of who’s in charge.

With that in mind the policies of National and Labour will highly influence what happens with the party you pick, regardless.

If it’s not obvious, whilst #whyshouldIvoteforyou was totally up to the politicians themselves. This post is all me, all my opinion. I tried to be unbiased but I will acknowledge that I do have a preference.


National’s policies are brief and exciting. But they don’t address why or how or in many cases, when. They all end with a scary warning of why you shouldn’t vote for the Greens or Labour. And when I started looking into the policies a bit deeper I noticed a few didn’t add up – supposedly they’ve upped GP funding (so why have my Doctors fees increased for the first time I can remember?).

I’ll reiterate that their policies on face value all look good (bar the social welfare reforms which make me grind my teeth) but there’s nothing to tell us what all the money they’re putting towards things means for everyday New Zealanders.

Referring back to the issues people asked me to look at specifically – no, they do not mention poverty, income inequality or climate change. They promise jobs through getting 25 -34 year olds into tertiary education, a rate my qualification survey to show young people what qualifications business owners desire and by supporting business growth. You can read the jobs plan here.

The health policies look pretty standard – more doctors, better waiting times, etc etc, there’s nothing really new there unless you have a vested interest in a specific area in which case I’d suggest having a look for it here.  Education too is difficult to tell, they say they’ll keep the best teachers teaching…. but they don’t say how. You can read the education policies here.

In regards to the Arts it’s all orchestras, The Hobbit (and filmmaking), Digital content access, public broadcasting and museums. Theatre world friends, unless you can get a break into big budget film there’s not much for you in it.

My main bug bear however is the social welfare policy. Throughout all of National’s policies you see no mention of protecting vulnerable people (they have a vulnerable children act dedicated to child abuse, but it’s not about being vulnerable in other ways), there’s no prevention, no fighting off the cycle that is being poor. There is nothing bar ‘Working For Families’ that supports New Zealanders to be able to comfortably look after themselves. There’s nothing about improving the quality of living. There’s nothing about the growing cost of power and food. Many of their policies relate to ultra fast broadband (including in education, health, arts) but they don’t acknowledge if people will be able afford to access these new tools at home. For me, these are the issues which actively impact on New Zealanders on a day to day basis.

So what do they offer? They want to reduce benefit numbers by 25%. They claim they’re getting 1,600 people off welfare every week. My question is, is this actually better? If people are off welfare, has the quality of their lives actually improved? Are National putting in the work to ensure that the people they’re getting off welfare are getting into jobs that pay them a living wage? That are sustainable? If you’ve read Sarah Wilson’s blog (if you haven’t you should) then you’ll forgive me for saying that I doubt this is the case. In actual fact, I think it’s probably more a case of driving the ambulance away from the cliff and patting yourself on the back for saving ambulance money while people drop one by one. Dramatic? Yes. Totally ridiculous? No.


Labour has taken a very different approach. Where National was sparse on detail, Labour presents full reports with executive summaries and everything (e.g. NZ Power Policy Doc). More content doesn’t necessarily mean better policy. But it certainly gives you the whys and hows and when.

This extra information helps frame the policy. They outline the problems and then give us the solution.

So for Jobs and Wages they’re talking about increasing the minimum wage to $15 in the first 100 days of government and then $16.25 next year, to set a target of returning the minimum wage to 2/3 of the average wage and to abolish secondary tax.

A policy I thought was particularly admirable was to ensure that all core public service workers are paid at least the living wage and to make the Crown a leader in good employment practices. The full policy is here. 

Like National, Labour has a pretty standard health care plan. They want to extend free doctors visits to under 13s (National’s policy is under 6) but other than that I’ll repeat what I said before – if you’re interested in a specific area check out the policy here. 

For Arts, Culture and Heritage they’re promising creative apprenticeships to support the early careers of people in the creative industries, they will reinstate the Artists in Schools programme, support screen production, interactive production, literature, and music. They will increase funding to the National library to speed up digitisation of heritage collections and further collect oral histories. Labour will support community arts, heritage and intellectual property. The policy is available here.

Key differences in Labour’s education policy include restoring funding for 100% qualified teach staff in early child hood education, lift the proportion of 6 year olds receiving reading recovery from 14% to at least 20% and to develop a parallel maths recovery (details), reduce the size of senior primary school classes to 26 and reduce secondary school classes to 23. They promise to offer to replace school donations at a cost of $50 million per year and to ensure that university students are represented on university councils with strong student associations. Labour will restore Adult and Community Education and my favourite policy of all – they’ll introduce the food in schools bill to get kids growing and cooking their own food in school. As David Shearer said in his #whyshouldIVoteforyou piece, it’s providing a skill for life. Labour’s full education policy is available here. 

Unlike National, Labour actually has climate change policy. They will establish an independent climate commission, restore the ETS and seek to play a leading role in International Climate Change negotiations for binding reductions in greenhouse gases, in a comprehensive and effective treaty. Full policy.

In regards to social development, Labour wants to break cycles of poverty by addressing the following areas:

  • higher wages, a living income, fairer taxes, reduced inequality
  • training and other services to enable people to get (back) into work
  • healthy, affordable housing
  • access to healthcare for all, but especially for young children
  • access to childcare and adequate time to spend with children
  • equal educational opportunities moving from education into work
  • freedom from family and sexual violence
  • support for disabled people
  • security of income in old age
  • an active and well established community and voluntary sector working with communities, families and government

Highlights include introducing a $60/week Best Start Payment for all families during a child’s first year of life and lift abatement thresholds for all main benefits to $150/ week to provide a pathway into paid employment. You can read the full policy here.

The emphasis in this collection of policy differs vastly from National’s goal of getting 25% of people off welfare.

So who will you vote for? Today is the last day to enrol and tomorrow is voting day. Make your vote count. 


Image c/o Richard Hills

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Royals of Kihikihi

On Tuesday a third play opened, Royals of Kihikihi. Two plays in one night is sort of doable. Three, not so much. So I pulled in my friend Sigourney Taylor.

Fall in love with her words, then go see the show. I know I want to now. 


As anyone who knows me will say, I’m a sucker for raw and unapologetic portrayals of life in all mediums of art. The grittier the better, is my motto. I never really considered that I could watch something that was too raw, but Royals of Kihikihi certainly comes close.

IMG_20140917_213349My night started out innocuous enough; as is my custom, I sought out dinner to ensure I had the energy to sit through a whole 65 minutes of the play. I gorged on Jambalaya from Elliot Street Stables, and partook in a seriously delicious waffle from Waffle Supreme. (Side note: Seriously, you need to eat there. The guy who owns it is all kinds of lovely, and his waffles are crunchy on the outside, with doughy, fluffy innards speckled with granules of sugar and covered in delectable toppings, or, for the purists out there, a dusting of icing sugar.)

My stomach was happy, so I waddled and rolled up to Q theatre. Royals of Kihikihi is being held in the Vault of Q. It was a full house, which meant that we all overheated under the stage lights. However, I prefer heat stroke to hypothermia, so I simply sat back and prayed I had remembered to put deodorant on that morning.

I was extremely thankful that the set design, which was set in the middle of a filthy lounge room, did not include the stench of old alcohol and Big Macs. I’m all for authenticity, but I have my limit.

Royals of Kihikihi opens with Violet (Holly Shervey) engaged in one of my preferred past times: sprawled on the cough watching trashy television. Violet, as we quickly learn, preferred to watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” to attending her mother’s funeral.

It’s an accepted fact of life that weddings and funerals are one of the few occasions where the whole family congregates. True to this adage, the Royal children return; Wolfe (Samuel Christopher), the recovering addict and alcoholic, the neurotic Patsy (Luci Hare) who got out of Kihikihi to the bright lights of Hamilton, and never looked back, and the spoilt little delinquent, Violet.

As tensions between siblings mounted, their tongues got sharper, and I found myself equal parts amused, and horrified. It was acerbic, lightening quick and irreverent; black comedy at its finest.

Each sibling was played with a delightful mix of the kind of immaturity one only regresses to when surrounded by siblings, and the gravity of people who have loved and lost.

Wolfe had a raffish charm and slickness that was cut with a boyish desperation for approval, and I found myself wanting to give him a hug! Patsy was a nightmare of neuroses held together by a thin veneer of calm. Her manic vacuuming accompanied by her vitriolic diatribe was the highlight of the play for me. Violet was every little girl who grew up with no self worth, no guidance, and no repercussions.

Finally, there was the delightfully interfering friend of their mum, played by Sylvia Rands with superb comedic timing. She was the small town joke; the probable alcoholic who worked at the TAB and bludged off Maggie Royal for fags. Our laughter was flecked with the arrogance of the city, but there was something honest and kind about her, that made me admire her simple joy in her mundane life.

Royals of Kihikihi took you on not so much a Rollercoaster, as a FearFall of emotion. The inter-sibling tension percolated through the play, the audience always aware that the rise to the top could not last. The free fall, when it came, was nothing short of brutal, fast, and left me feeling as though my organs had been re-arranged none too gently. The resolution of Royals of Kihikihi was abrupt and almost unsatisfying; I almost expected a second half. It left me to wobble from my seat and leave in a minor state of shock.

Although I felt cheated out of my nice little ending that I expect to be handed to me in a package, I know that there was no other way for Royals of Kihikihi to conclude without cheapening the truths and stories it told so brilliantly.

Anyway, I’ve always liked the FearFall.

In addition to it’s marvelous characterization and plot, the play challenged ideas around small town New Zealand, poverty, domestic violence, and alcoholism. Much fun was poked at their Mum’s alcohol problem, but there was no denying that it was a yoke around all their necks that they were still fighting to throw off. With 14% of New Zealanders with a diagnosable substance abuse disorder (Wells et al. 2007), bringing the damage that alcohol wrecks on a family into the unflattering spotlight was a timely reminder of the destructive effect it has on our society.

Ultimately, Royals of Kihikihi was a hilarious and heartbreaking look behind the closed doors of New Zealand life. It was not an easy experience, but I value theatre for its ability to expose me to stories and emotions that are not part of my everyday reality.

I highly recommend it, but I also recommend doing what I did straight after, and ringing Mum.

It’s on at Q until the 27th of September. More information and tickets are available here. 

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In New Zealand it’s easy to get caught up with party politics and never really learn about the people standing in your own electorate. This election I’ve tried to give every candidate (in Auckland and Wellington) a voice by asking them 5 questions. Read more about the series here.

mt roskill

 Incumbent: Phil Goff | Labour

Standing in 2014:
Mahesh Bindra | NZ First
Barry Coates | Green
Paul David | Conservative
Phil Goff | Labour
John Minto | Mana
Parmjeet Parmar | National

phil goff phil

What do you think characterises the Mt Roskil Electorate?

Mt Roskill is a diverse electorate. Almost half of electors are born overseas and it is the most ethnically diverse community in the country.

It is diverse too in terms of income levels from deprived areas to wealthy ones. It is characterised by people who come to New Zealand with hopes for opportunity and a better life for their families.

What do you think the most important issue is for New Zealanders? Do you think this is the same for New Zealanders living in the Mt Roskil Electorate?

The most important issues for New Zealanders and for Mt Roskill electors is the impact of Government policies on their families – job, incomes, homes, education and health. Too many of our community are being left behind. Kids whose parents may be working but who don’t earn enough or are paying such high rent that they can’t afford the things their families need.

The loss of the Kiwi dream of owning their own home. A local house recently sold for $765,000 and the land agent said it was only really fit for tearing down.

The erosion in real terms of spending on health and education undermines critical investments in every family’s future.

 What is your pet piece of policy? Why?

I like the proposal to turn the dole for school leavers into an incentive payment for employers to take on additional apprenticeships for unemployed school leavers. That way our kids develop the skills and confidence to get good jobs with good incomes that last a lifetime.

What will you do to improve the local Mt Roskil Community?

A key need, aside from the issues discussed above, is transport and traffic congestion. New developments, like the housing that will go on to the Three Kings Quarry site which will add 3000 extra residents, intensify pressure on our transport infrastructure. We need the City Rail link, which will double rail capacity, to start now, not in 2020, and we need to develop plans for rapid-transit rail from Mt Eden to Mt Roskill as well as the long awaited Southdown to Avondale link.

Motorways by themselves won’t do what is needed.

Why should I vote for you? 

People will make their own mind up on who they vote for as their electorate representative. In previous elections I have won cross-party support. My ongoing commitment is to put all of the energy and hard work I am capable of into representing the interests of my electorate locally, in parliament and in government. People can judge me on my track record of many years in parliament and the work I have done as a minister. I don’t take their support for granted. Every day of representing your community in parliament is a privilege that has to be earned.

bc barry

What do you think characterises the Mt Roskill Electorate?

Diversity. The electorate is richly diverse, and that makes it interesting and exciting place to live.

According to Electoral Commission records, the Mt Roskill electorate has a huge number of different ethnic groups, with more people born outside New Zealand than in it. We have the highest number of Muslims and Hindus of any electorate, with big populations from Indian and Chinese ethnicity, and a total of around 54 nationalities. You only need to visit areas of the electorate around Wesley, Akarana and Royal Oak to see the different cultures adding life and colour to our city.

The electorate is also diverse geographically, from volcanoes of Mt Roskill/Puketapapa, One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie, Big Kings/Te Tātua a Riukiuta to Oakley Creek/Te Auaunga (the longest river in the isthmus) and the wonderful Manukau Harbour coastline along Hillsborough, Waikowhai and Lynfield. The Puketapapa Local Board is working to put a Greenways plan into place to protect and restore that precious natural environment.

The electorate is also diverse in socio-economic terms, from some of New Zealand’s most socially deprived areas, such as Wesley, Walmsley and Akarana to the more affluent Maungawhau and Mt Eden South.

What do you think the most important issue is for New Zealanders?

You may have seen our billboards talking about ‘Love New Zealand’. Is because the New Zealand we love is under threat. People are right to be worried about our environment, particularly the deteriorating state of our rivers. We should be appalled by the level of child poverty, affecting almost one in four children. We all recognise the difficulty for the average person to be able to afford a decent standard of living, faced with high costs for housing, power, water and food. And we be worried about the state of our political system, with too much sleaze and corruption. This is not the New Zealand we love.

The Green Party is focusing on changing these issues at the election. We will ensure that there is a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy. The Greens will ensure that our rivers are clean enough to swim in and our beaches are safe from oil spills. We will ensure that every child has enough to thrive. And we will build a smarter greener economy that provides decent jobs.

Do you think this is the same for New Zealanders living in the Mt Roskill Electorate?

While these issues are important there is also a sharper focus on urban issues. The Green Party will invest in transport choices for Mt Roskill through getting rail moving in Auckland and bringing rail to Roskill, and invests in safe cycling, especially for kids going to school. The Greens will ensure that kids in decile 1-4 schools have funding to create ‘school hubs’ with coordinated support for health, counselling and advice, as well as community services.

What is your pet piece of policy? Why?

Climate change is not necessarily the policy that people would immediately identify as important, but it is crucial for our long term future and that of others in the world. Prior to becoming the Green Party candidate for Mt Roskill I was the head of Oxfam New Zealand for ten years. I have seen the impacts of climate change in the islands of the Pacific, in the arid zones of Africa and in low lying areas of Asia. We need to step up to the challenge of climate change, not only for own sakes, but also for the health of our planet and the welfare of millions of vulnerable people in the developing world. The Green Party has a strong climate change policy that will make the polluters pay for their emissions, and will return the income to the public through a tax free amount of $2000 for every taxpayer in New Zealand.

What will you do to improve the local Mt Roskill Community?

I am passionate about helping to build a great Mt Roskill community. While the role of an MP is more focused on the national level, there are important local issues that I can support communities on, if I get enough Parry votes for the Green Party and enter Parliament. I am 16th Party list and local support will be crucial in helping get me into Parliament.

I support the Puketapapa Local Board in the development of the Greenways project that is improving the local environment. But a strong push from Parliament is needed on some crucial issues. Along the Manukau harbour coast, there are ugly pylons that need to be replaced by underground power lines. I will support the local campaign.

I will make representations to Auckland airport over the proposed new Smart Path flight plans.

There needs to be full consideration given to increased noise for local people and proper consultation.

I will support local people in being able to have a say, and be heard, on local issues such as the development of the quarry in Three Kings and the development of the Three Kings retail centre. This should be an opportunity to create a more liveable and vibrant community, with full consideration given to the impact on home owners and those concerned about more traffic.

And I will support the enrichment of community and cultural life in Mt Roskill. With the diversity of cultures in Mt Roskill, I am struck by the lack of a cultural centre that would be able to support community activity and cultural performances. This would help highlight the richness of Mt Roskill’s cultures.

Why should I vote for you?

I have gained skills during my career. I have an economics degree from Auckland University and a Masters from Yale University. I have worked in business and can help build a stronger Mt Roskill and New Zealand economy. I have learned to listen and support communities through my role as the head of Oxfam and other organisations that help the vulnerable and improve the lives of needy people. And I have shown leadership in New Zealand and at the international level in fighting for fairness and sustainability. I am a dedicated father and family man with two teenage daughters, and I have strong principles of honesty and integrity.

I have made a difference outside of politics, and now I am hoping you will give me your support to make a difference as an MP. On election day, Party vote Green!!

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image (1)
The point of a newspaper would seem to be in the name. ‘News’ paper. Which, the 5 year old I once was would firmly tell you is boring, an older me might have learnt the word tedious and a naive me might say factual. Today I’d probably say disappointing.

You might have other adjectives to associate with the swathes of flimsy ink rubbing paper, published in droves on a daily basis, but I’m sure that you would not suggest, a story of the world.

News is boring right?

Perhaps not.

In Barnie Duncan’s …Him, the newspaper is brought to life.

For 50 minutes Duncan explores the daily stories of our world. They’re everywhere. On every wall, on every seat and piled around the space. It’s eerie and magical and hilariously fascinating.

Duncan dives into the abstract of these stories, exploring the words, the themes, searching for meaning. As the blurb says, Him is a recluse who lives obsessively through his only connection with the outside world – the daily newspaper.

I found it fascinating, how when you remove the contextual detail that informs how you read a newspaper it changes the interpretation. It becomes more literally about what is read on the page and how the pages relate to each other. How in a space like …Him, the subject becomes an abstract idea in of himself. Which is a bizarre idea I admit, but somehow, engaging so intently on such an array of details pulls the person out of the mix. It’s still human. But somehow it’s less individual.

Have you ever got lost in a thought or a detail and got so deep that everything became bizarre and meaningless yet deeply interesting and incredibly connected to everything?

That’s …Him.

Catch it at The Basement this week. Maybe even double bill it with Wild Bees? You won’t regret it!

Ticketing and more info here. 


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Wild Bees

New Zealand can be a confused place. We’re proud because of our background of hard working men, we’re proud because we were the first country to give women the vote, we’re proud because we stood up to America over the nukes. But we’re not really that country any more. We still sell ourselves as 100% Pure (questionable) and we still pride ourselves for being a fairly great place to bring up your kids (slipping) but in many ways we’ve changed a lot.

When did that start to happen? When did the voice of the people stop counting to those in power? Have we always just shrugged our shoulders and said ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t care’ when faced with issues that impact on our day to day lives?

The ‘I don’t know and don’t care’ thing flummoxes me. Is it that you are lucky enough to have the luxury to legitimately not be bothered by the world around you? Or are you just stupid?

It also pulls the validity of living in a country where everyone has the right to an opinion into serious question – what’s the point if you don’t care to have one?


Which in an around about way brings me to Wild Bees. Set in the midst of one of the big union renegotiations of the early 1990s, Wild Bees is the story of one of the great turning points in our history. The point where the unions fell apart, for better or for worse (this play would say for worse).

It’s an astounding beast to watch, even more so when you acknowledge that writer, Phil Ormsby based it upon his own experiences. I found myself flitting between laughter and deep concern.

How could company directors be so very callous?

In Phil’s own words,

I remember talking with people at the time, saying this should be a movie, people won’t believe it.’

And yet, I personally knew nothing about it. I’m too young for one, but as I’ve said before, in New Zealand we learn everyone’s history but our own.

So I asked Phil and producer/actress Alex Ellis to fill me in a bit:

In the press release it says that it’s a period that is little talked about. You’re right. Can you give us a summary for dummies about what was happening in New Zealand politics at this time?

Purely subjective; New Zealanders elected a Labour government in 1984. This new labour government was captured by the same school of economic reformists of the Thatcher and Reagan administrations in England and USA and embarked on a series of reforms in NZ which culminated in the selling off of billions of dollars of New Zealand assets the stripping back or closing of hundreds of Government agencies and abandonment of import tariffs and the introduction of GST. By the 1990’s the country had rejected the Labour party but the newly elected National government continued the reforms and took them even further. They introduced the Employment Contracts Act which removed union influence from workplaces overnight. The total number of changes, social and political (mmp was introduced) that took place over the period 1984-94 almost without any public mandate or consultation at all is mind-boggling.

 What got the ball rolling on making Wild Bees happening now? When did Phil decide on the election week date? Have any events during the election campaign made it even more/less important a time to be showing it?

Phil has been writing Wild Bees for a while now. It would come out of the drawer every six months or so, get a once over and then go back in the drawer again. It came out earlier this year and we thought we’re going to have to bite the bullet sometime so why don’t we just do it. It’s Election year, let’s do it just before the Election. It’s the perfect time to remind people that a lot of the things that are happening now happened thirty years ago as well. The current Government are selling New Zealand assets again.

The public cynicism that we see around politicians as demonstrated by the whole dirty politics debate was seeded during the eighties when the people we elected demonstrated a patronising contempt for the public and have got away with it ever since.

Why was Wild Bees a story worth telling? 

PHIL: The promises and theories that drove the restructurings of the 1980’s and 90’s seem to me to have never really delivered. Yet the arguments for the changes continue. Now it seems we are all supposed to be driven by economic considerations; which so often sound more like theology than science. It’s good to remember we are people not numbers on a balance sheet.

ALEX: It’s based on a true story and it’s a piece of New Zealand History that we should all know more about. It’s funny and dramatic, has great characters and it’s a great story.

It seem like we’re now going through another ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening’ moment in New Zealand politics. How is Wild Bees relevant for New Zealanders in 2014?

It’s good to know about New Zealand History and I think a lot of New Zealanders under the age of thirty have no idea what happened with Rogernomics and the sell offs of SOE’s etc in the late 1980’s – 1990’s and what New Zealand was like before this happened. It’s relevent now because it’s good to remind ourselves that we don’t have to put up with the status quo and what is being spoon feed to us. We don’t have to give up on Politics or voting for a better country and conditions for New Zealanders and we need to fight for what we believe in.

 Have there been any moments of enlightenment amongst the cast?

ALEX: I came back from living in Australia about 10 years ago. When I lived there I remember thinking it was amazing where I worked. I got paid double time for working on a Sunday and if I worked over the hours I was rostered on for I got paid extra for staying late. Doing this play and talking about it with people who lived and worked through the period made me realise we used to have that in New Zealand. We used to have weekends where you either didn’t work, or if you did you got paid extra for doing it because the working week in New Zealand was 9 – 5pm Monday to Friday. Now we are expected to be available 24/7. I can’t imagine that now.

PHIL: It was a shock to me that people in their thirties now have no memory of the kind of country that I grew up in. For a lot of us that lived through it, it was a divisive and tumultuous time and it’s so strange to me that for a lot of people now, it’s as if it never happened.

Wild Bees is fascinating. The story is strong, the cast full of fire. For 2 and a half hours (with an interval) I was rivetted, I couldn’t believe it and by the end of it, really moved.

I can see Wild Bees becoming a great story of New Zealand, part of the school curriculum even. In the mean time, it’s on at The Basement. Go on, have a look and let me know what you think?

For tickets and more details click here. It closes this Saturday.

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In New Zealand it’s easy to get caught up with party politics and never really learn about the people standing in your own electorate. This election I’ve tried to give every candidate (in Auckland and Wellington) a voice by asking them 5 questions. Read more about the series here.


 Incumbent: Nanaia Mahuta // Labour

Standing in 2014:
Susan Cullen | Maori
Angeline Greensill | Mana
Nanaia Mahuta | Labour



Susan Cullen ( Wetere) Whanau Name
Ngati Maniapoto (Tribe))

What do you think characterises the Hauraki Waikato Electorate?

Rural and city, wealthy hinterland , mining and fisheries, gateway to Auckland and Pacifica, heart of the Kiingitanga and Maori histories of war and colonisation.  Some of the highest populations of Maori in townships to lowest Maori populations in other townships, a very mixed electorate, exciting and vibrant, with a Waikato river twirling through its heart.

What do you think is the most important issue for Maori living in your electorate?

Jobs Jobs Jobs

Why are you standing in a Maori seat? What is the value of Maori seats in your opinion?

I have always volunteered for the Maori Party in campaigning and fundraising since its inception.  I believe the Maori party is the single greatest political achievement for Maori, it has maintained a stable government in its accord with National, and equally too it could work with Labour.  I am an adjunct Professor in Maori education and have worked in Maori development and education for 30 years.  The Maori seats have been in existence since the beginning of New Zealands political history the question of value is like questioning the value of democracy, ‘it just is’ and ‘it is’ important. What we need to focus on is educating our children about how our nation came to be how it is today.

How will you improve the lives of Maori living in your community?

An independent Maori political voice can only benefit Maori because that is its primary role. The Maori Party has a 3 Billion track record on the support it has invested over the past 6 years in Maori defined initiatives that have overflowed into helping all New Zealanders eg Kickstart breakfasts and under 13s free GP visits, rheumatic fever screening.

Why Should I Vote For You?

Our electorate has been served by the same MP for 18 years and its time for a change, rather instead of, I am promoting the idea of two MPs for one vote. Nanaia Mahuta for Labour is already on the party list and will get in automatically, our people can have two of us working for them.

The candidates featured in this post are those who have responded. If you are a candidate in Rongotai and would still like to be included, it’s not too late. Flick me an email at and I will slip you in. 

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In New Zealand it’s easy to get caught up with party politics and never really learn about the people standing in your own electorate. This election I’ve tried to give every candidate (in Auckland and Wellington) a voice by asking them 5 questions. Read more about the series here.


 Incumbent: Hone Harawira // Mana

Standing in 2014: 
Kelvin Davis | Labour
Clinton Dearlove | Independent
Hone Harawira | Mana
Te Hira Paenga | Māori


What do you think characterises the Te Tai Tokerau Electorate?

The Te Tai Tokerau electorate is characterised by the greatest people struggling to do well for their families against the greatest of odds. There is so much ‘people potential’ in Te Tai Tokerau but in too many cases that potential struggles to flourish. This will change if we focus on the issues that matter most to the people – safe, warm secure homes, well paid work and strong families. Education is the pathway to success for all people of Te Tai Tokerau. Successful people together mean successful whanau. Successful whanau together mean successful hapu. When hapu are successful whole communities will be successful. That means our economy has the best chance of being strong, and with successful people living in successful communities we create an upward spiral of success where everyone benefits and disparity and poverty are eliminated.

What do you think is the most important issue for Maori living in your electorate? 

The most important issues for Northland are threefold. Firstly the lack of well paid jobs is driving people into poverty. Poverty inhibits hope, and without hope people become desperate.  Labour will put more money in people’s pockets by increasing the minimum wage by $2 by April next year.  The second issue is the lack of warm, dry, secure housing. This is less of a building issue and more of a health issue. Too many are suffering preventable illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, strep throat and rheumatic fever because of overcrowding and living in damp, cold homes. In a first world country such as New Zealand in the 21st century, this is inexcusable.   I believe Labour’s Healthy Homes Guarantee, that will make sure every rental home is warm and dry, will make a huge difference in Northland.  The third issue is sexual and domestic violence which is rampant across communities in Te Tai Tokerau. They are the number one cause of youth suicide and a driver of poverty as they affect (usually) a woman’s ability to rise above her circumstances, earn a living and contribute to the financial well-being of her family. The best way we can feed our children is to love their mothers.  Labour will take decisive action with the aim of being world leading in eliminating violence against women and children focusing on prevention, support services and justice.

 Why are you standing in a Maori seat? What is the value of Maori seats in your opinion? 

I am standing in a Maori seat because I want to help all New Zealanders but in particular Maori have happy, successful lives. I want other Maori to enjoy the success I have experienced through growing up amongst a strong, loving family. Success doesn’t come down to luck, it comes down to creating the conditions where everyone is allowed to flourish according to their own strengths and passions. The Maori seats are hugely important to ensuring the Maori voice is heard in parliament and to ensure our interests remain priorities in the eyes of the country and our law makers.

How will you improve the lives of Maori living in your community? 

I will improve the lives of Maori living in my community by having an unapologetic and relentless focus on my four priorities: 1. Education, 2. The economy (homes, jobs, families), 3. Te Reo Maori, 4. The elimination of sexual and domestic violence.

People should vote for me because if they want their children to be academically successful, they need to vote for me as a former principal who turned the ‘school most at risk north of Auckland’ around in just three years to the extent we had almost 80% of students achieving in above the New Zealand median, whereas previously we had 96% failure. We need a politician in parliament who has a track record of making students learn.

Why Should I Vote For You? 

People should vote for me if they want good jobs, warm, dry homes and strong families.

People should vote for me if they want Te Reo to be spoken, heard, read, and used as a working language.

People should vote for me if they want a politician serious about eliminating sexual and domestic violence from New Zealand.

The candidates featured in this post are those who have responded. If you are a candidate in Rongotai and would still like to be included, it’s not too late. Flick me an email at and I will slip you in. 

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