Category Archives: Auckland

John Campbell gone, a tragedy, travesty or a wake up call?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Well the axe has fallen, like a slow rolling locomotive, John Campbell and his supporters have been put out of their misery.  Now I have to say I like John Campbell and supported his programme.  I have enjoyed seeing various politicians, shysters, crooks, and generally mean people squirm under the intense scrutiny of the Campbell Live team.  I will be eternally grateful that I don’t have to pass by the honey traps that the dead sea secret mud sellers set in the shopping malls.  There is no doubt that John Campbell has done a power of good.

It is a moot point whether Campbell has paid the price for pricking the consciences of the powerful, it is what it is. TV3 is a private enterprise and entitled to make decisions, as of course we as consumers are. I will make a point of not buying anything advertised in the replacement show of Campbell Live.  Here is the nub for me, the thing I find obscene, distressing and sickening. On Facebook someone lamented who would highlight child poverty, who will keep politicians and bad people accountable, I read this and was enraged, we have abrogated our responsibilities to the suited crusader, Mr John Campbell esquire.

Let me explain, I am an agent of social change, I attempt to hold people accountable, call out loudly when I see things that alarm me, challenge injustice when I see it.  I have written before how it is tiring defending yourself and dealing with your own injustices let alone others https://kiwipaulspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/this-frog-is-tired-of-being-boiled/.  However when we rely on a highly paid high profile, journalist to be our social conscience then we are in trouble.  I have lamented how people just don’t care about issues, I guess I am not completely correct but what we have seen with the slow death of John Campbell is a clear definition of where the problem lies.

It is no secret that the National Party celebrate the loss of the Campbell Live show, the question has to be asked why.  Is it possible that they realised that our society’s defence against the epidemic arising from the economic policies of neo-liberal politics had come to John Campbell? That the electorate did not care about the excesses of neo-liberalism, the causalities of our “free market” economy was abundantly clear in the results of the election.  Campbell was a thorn in their sides.  Well I see that as a moral failure.

Any reasonable person who has a simple grasp of the reality we live in should be able to see that people are living at the margins of society, that vulnerable people are being hurt, hopes dreams and normality is destroyed as a growing number of people are being excluded from participating in society.  The answer from political parties as a whole is inadequate.  Labour wants to in fight about the politics of funding transgender surgeries and National throws 25.00 at families and crows about how generous it is.  Enough to make me vomit. The Greens are written off as looney lefties, New Zealand first is more concerned about a bit more tar seal in Northland, Peter Dunne well if he was ever the answer the question was exceedingly stupid and The Maori Party have become as irrelevant as the ACT (the association of charlatans and tax avoiders).

The only politicians who care are soon shut up by their political masters because the voters only want to hear good news, they don’t want to have to be the ones who tell us that we need to either pay more tax or grow the cake.  Perhaps we need to make sure that the multinationals who profit so much from the free market and flexible labour laws pay their share, perhaps we need to make sure that those who profit tax free from property do so no longer and perhaps we also need to say enough… demand that our Government does what is should and eliminate poverty and its close cousin of abuse in New Zealand.

Rest in Peace Campbell Live, but it is time we stood up as we should.

Paul

I Hate Small Towns Part Two

Often after people find out I used to work as a social worker one of the questions that they used to ask me was what does a child abuser look like, I used to say pick up a mirror and look at the reflection.  Abusers come in all shapes and sizes they are a percentage of the population.  In a population you will find all sorts of people however, living in a small town amplifies deviance.  Clique groups and power brokers seem to wield influence beyond their sphere of influence and conservatism rules.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem lies with how deviance is defined.  The fact that my children are relatively safe walking the streets compared to where we used to live is an example of a how in a small town deviant behaviour is much easier to see, and to a degree it is not tolerated.  This is fine when we are talking about anti-social aberrant behaviours which are harmful to others however, the way behaviour is classified as deviant in a small town is very different to big towns and city.

There are a number of reasons for this, small towns should reflect big towns, society should be made up of the same kinds of people and in similar kinds of proportions, there in lies part of the answer, what may seem to a large group of deviant people in a city is perhaps not so true, they are probably just a whole lot more visible.  Just as there are more deviant people there are likely to be more tolerant people who live in  city, what it comes to is the amount of influence that these people have.  That is the theory however my experience tells me a different story.  You see here in Morrinsville many people see me as deviant.

I am deviant because I don’t vote conservative, I am left wing, how do people know this, well I stand up for what I believe in.  I have been involved politically, I don’t shut my mouth when I encounter injustice and I don’t fit into the mould. Some of  those moulds have changed since I was a young person but here in Morrinsville it is the conservative, conventional suits that rule, no ifs no buts no maybes, and to be honest I see them as deviant, is there any midway between.

Well I guess common ground can be found but I am not sure enough could be found for either of our points of views to meet in a real meeting of minds but I am not completely set in my ways, my views can be changed because I know that I don’t have the answer for everything and that is what makes me normal, well normal is a wide kind of a label but it is the word that comes to mind.  Deviant is a loaded word that carries a lot of baggage, and as I have written before when we label people it is so much easier to denigrate, ignore and debunk their beliefs.  In reality that is an approach that is used so that people do not have to engage with their own issues, they cannot admit to being wrong about one thing in theory life because that may mean their whole world view could be challenged.

I am not writing here of people that like or don’t like Paul Henry or Mike Hoskings or Julia Christie.  I am talking of people who in the face of overwhelming evidence will deny there is a problem, like bullying, deviance starts at the very top of our country, parliament.  Politicians deny things that are so glaringly obvious that it beggars belief.  If I had such an aversion to the truth I would probably be locked up in a mental hospital and labeled deviant, yet politicians get away with it, go figure. So I guess the way I look at it is deviance is contagious we catch it from politicians.

Remember for the little crazy they calls you deviant and lock you up, for the big crazy they call you Prime Minister and pay you lots of money,

yours in craziness,

Paul

The Housing Crisis Continued.

One of the enduring and historical problems with the shortage of quality rental properties is how this affects different strata in society.  The law of supply and demand is pretty simple, when a resource is limited, competition to secure that resource means that the price will go up.   Invariably this means that those who earn less are those whom miss out on the resource, in this instance housing, duh nothing new here you say. Low income people have had it like this for many years.  Note carefully, low income does not equate being on a benefit, there are many people who are employed but live on a low income.

In the past this was not such a problem as there was a reasonable safety net provided by way of public housing, mainly provided by central government with a smaller amount provided by local government.  This was not perfect however there was also a lot of employer provided housing from local authorities, railways, electricity companies, police, schools, dairy industry and so forth.  Farms were smaller and offered accommodation for employees as well.  So what has happened to all of this?  Well neo-liberal economic politics essentially, some might say unintended consequences however these consequences were well signalled, further hardship was caused to beneficiaries by what was euphemistically called the mother of all budgets, see here for some effects of that http://tinyurl.com/motherofallpain.  There was other effects as well, many believed it caused further unemployment and also many small businesses failed or struggled.

The effects of this neo-liberal ideology caused a great deal of discontent with the National Party, they however retained power in the next election.  Some may argue that this is clearly democracy in action however two things occurred, the public voted to remove the first past the post electoral system  (FPP) and replaced it with MMP (mixed member proportional representation).  One of the reasons that the National Party remained in power is that the policy created winners and losers, and unfortunately the winners were people who were more likely to vote and who had political agency.  The end result was not democracy but tyranny, majority rules is not democratic.

This deliberate policy of selling off housing stock and not replacing it with new builds at the same rate created the conditions for a spiralling perfect storm, increasing demand for housing by population growth and decreasing availability.  Once the Auckland factor is added in there is no surprise that so many problems that have their root in the availability of housing are prevalent.  One school in Auckland had a reported 50% pupil turnover in a year, renters talk about 6 properties in a year, and the churn is incredible and costly.  The incidence of Rheumatic fever equals that in many parts of the developing world giving is third world rates of harm to children in vulnerable families. The effects on mental health are obvious as part of the whole neo-liberal policies sees mental health institutions closed down and many ex patients left to find their way in society with an ever shrinking pool of money to assist them.

The problem is that the struggle for people affected by these policies is often invisible.  I have had the opportunity to see into the kitchens and lounges of these people, 15 people living in a three bedroom house is not unknown. I have also unfortunately had personal experience in the rental market, having to live in substandard, un-insulated   cold, damp, mould prone housing due to the lack of affordable healthy housing. I am fortunate to be in my own house now that is relatively warm with reliable heating and a good degree of insulation.

I have laid out a brief synopsis of the issues around housing.  I will turn my attention to solutions in the near future.  In the meantime spare a thought for those who have to endure substandard housing as we venture towards winter, especially the vulnerable in our society, the children and the elderly.

Paul

The Non Housing Crisis

In my last post I talked about an Australian company attempting to impose sweat shop type activities in New Zealand, conditions that would not be tolerated in Australia, Continue reading

Blond hair, dark glasses and a puffer jacket,

Puffer jacket, faded jeans and sunnys, leaning up against a sign, a baseball cap completed the ensemble. From a distance, I wasn’t quite sure, the silhouette was small, was this a child?  No thumb out just standing by a sign at an on ramp, looking as if a taxi was due to arrive.

I haven’t picked up hitch-hikers for a while now, I am not sure particularly why, I think I have been feeling vulnerable perhaps, perhaps just the feeling that I have enough people in my world to look after and I don’t want to find someone else in need at the moment. Anyway it matters not, I nearly kept on driving, I had a twinge of guilt perhaps and pulled up.  In an instant the figure was galvanized into action racing towards me.  I lowered the window and asked where are you off to?Rotorua came back the reply, I offered a ride part of the way and they jumped straight in the car.

There was a distinct air of vulnerability about this hitchhiker, an unusual shape to her face, barely 147 cms perhaps less and no more than 40 kgs dripping wet I would guess.  She carried a small backpack, which she hugged tightly on her lap.  Jackie was her name.  I could almost smell the fear on her, I told her who I was, what I did for a living, even gave her a business card.  I tried to engage her in small talk but rather quickly gave up, as Jackie fixed her gaze firmly on the road ahead.  I wondered what drove her to hitch-hike, she would not be able to resist if someone tried something on.

There was a hardness to her , a very determined set to her jaw. The hardness was accentuated by some rather obvious acne scars that were poorly concealed with makeup.  the angular lines of her face and a sloping forehead didn’t help.  Her oversized puffer jacket dwarfed her.  When she spoke her voice had an almost child-like simplicity to it. It was as if she had victim written all over her.  After a short time, I put Shania Twain on the stereo and drove on just thinking.  Another time I would have driven her all the way to Rotorua, I just couldn’t face the drive today.  I hope I made the right decision.  I did take the longer way home for me, dropping her at what i considered a safer place to catch the next leg of her journey.  She didn’t seem to know her way very well at all and when I asked her where she wanted to be dropped, she was very passive, saying wherever.

I wasn’t sure whether it was sadness, resignation or just plain scared that was on her face, I couldn’t see her eyes behind her dark wrap around sunglasses which almost seemed to be like a protective visor, her cap a helmet and her puffer jacket her suit of armour.  I wanted to ask her what her story was, reach out to her soul in some way, put right whatever was broken, travelling so light I wondered if she was running away from something or somebody. I half expected her to ask for some money.  the one anomaly was her perfume, it smelt expensive, not one I could name but it was really classy.

Jackie rode along in silence and then i noticed her beginning to fall asleep.  She struggled to keep awake, jerking bolt upright every time she nodded off.  I turned the aircon on for her.  I could sense her discomfort at falling asleep and I wondered,it was only 2.30 in the afternoon… Perhaps drugs were the reason she was so thin, her wrists seemed so tiny.  She fought sleep but eventually nodded off until we slowed for a turn off.  Every now and then  could sense a sour smell, not really body odour, but it was there, just under the radar….

I was worried for her, I thought I hope she will be alright but when it came to my turnoff I dropped her at the side of the road, I told her I was concerned for her safety, I asked her was she scared, she said she was.  I suggested to her to text a friend the registration of the car she was being picked up by.  She almost jumped out of the car after thanking me, quickly shouldering her bag and without looking back she started to walk, I looked back in the mirror and wondered, what her story was, would she be ok? Was I doing the right thing?  I hoped so, I could rationalise my decision, Jackie was an adult, early 30’s I thought.  I checked the online news, nothing about a missing person.  I had regrets, I didn’t ask her if she was ok, I had no words for her really, I know I am only human, I showed her a kindness in giving her a lift, giving her advice.  I can’t save the world, some things just are.  I hope Jackie is ok…..

S

Auckland Poem

Auckland

Bursting at the seams

You polyglot

Desires and needs

Thrash against each other

Like wind against tide.

Your burgeoning waters

Explode with many hues

From sparkling blue to muddy brown

They are coloured

Like the people that you encompass

Manicured streets

With emerald green lawns and swaying palms

Battle against the meanness of your grey neighbour hoods

Your dirty stories not so secret

Struggle to have their voices heard

Everywhere monuments

To unfettered desires pulsate in the street

Like flashing neons

Fast food, fast cars, fast women

Scream out their desires

Your promise of new hope and opportunity

Tantalises and lures

Like insects to a flame they all come

Some to die in fleeting flashes

Others lifted to the sky

Auckland you vagabond, jewel, and whore

Selling yourself for the price of another fix

Bigger roads, brighter shops, more cars

How much is enough

When will you be satisfied

(c) Paul Cronin 2010

Auckland Part Two

As I wrote before there are some things that I really like about Auckland, I love the cultural diversity, the choice of food and entertainment.  I enjoy the busyness most of the time however Auckland has some flaws and a disease that ultimately may be terminal, if not severely disabling.

Auckland like any community has its problems.  Continue reading