Word of the day

January 9, 2013

Exegete – to expound or interpret; one who explains or interprets difficult parts of written works.


Human trafficking – our problem too

January 9, 2013

Human trafficking isn’t just a third-world problem.

It happens here too.

A University of Otago student has a website highlighting the issue.

She outlines the problem in New Zealand:

1. There is very little information about the problem of human sex trafficking in New Zealand

2. New Zealand Government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking – and therefore is in tier 1 of the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

3. The Prostitution Law Review Committee estimated that approximately 200 young persons under the age of 18 were working as prostitutes in 2004

4.  New Zealand is a source country for underage girls who are forced in to internal trafficking. New Zealand is also a destination country for foreign men and women who are subjected to forced labour. These men usually come from countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesian, and are forced to engage in activities such as aboard fishing vessels in NZ waters. They often have their passports confiscated from them and experience severe physical and mental abuse, as well as being forced to work extremely long hours with very little or no pay.

5. Women who are trafficked to New Zealand usually come from China and South East Asia, and tend to be recruited by people in their home countries as ‘labour agents’ for the purpose of prostitution.

6. There is a small percentage of girls and boys of Maori or Pacific Islander descent who are trafficked internally and forced to participate in street prostitution or be part of trafficking rings controlled by New Zealand gangs

7. Some Asian and Pacific Islander individuals migrate to New Zealand to work within the agricultural industry – But once they get here they find they have to work in far worse conditions and for much less pay than they were promised. 


Census miscounts NZers still

January 9, 2013

The census, which was cancelled in 2011 after the February earthquake in Christchurch, is taking place in a couple of months.

It will be very like the 2006 one which allowed us to  choose New Zealander as our ethnicity, but only in the other category.

A review of the official ethnicity statistical standard was initiated by Statistics NZ in 2008, after ‘New Zealander’ responses in the last census rose to 11.1 percent, from 2.4 percent in 2001. The scope of the review was wider than census but was used in conjunction with the census cognitive testing and research programme in decision-making for the 2011 Census. For more information about the research completed by the review and what this involved, see the Final Report of a Review of the Official Ethnicity Statistical Standard 2009.

In the review, most key users of census data stated that the format of the census ethnicity question should remain unchanged. They emphasised the importance of consistency in statistics across the Official Statistics System and the comparability of the ethnicity measure over time. These views reflect concerns that even a minor change in a questionnaire’s format can have unintended but significant impacts on responses and subsequent statistical outputs.
Some submissions to the review expressed a desire for greater visibility for ‘New Zealander’ responses. As with outputs from the 2006 Census, this will be done by having ‘New Zealander’ as a separate category (under ‘Other’) in several of the 2011 Census outputs. For an example of how ‘New Zealander’ responses in the 2006 Census were output, see QuickStats About a Place on the Statistics NZ website.   . .

The importance of consistency is obvious if those who use statistics are to be able to make comparisons between one census and another.

But some things change and cultural identity is one of those.

My mother used to refer to Britain as Home, even before she’d been there. That wasn’t uncommon for her generation and they probably didn’t think twice about claiming European ethnicity.

That is no longer the case for most of us.

Although, when you look at the definition of ethnicity, I’m not sure it ever really was:

Ethnicity refers to the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can affiliate with more than one ethnic group.

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • a common proper name 
  • one or more elements of common culture which need not be specified, but may include religion, customs, or language
  • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
  •  a shared sense of common origins or ancestry 
  • a common geographic origin.

If ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship why are the choices for ethnicity New Zealand European, Maori, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Chinese, Indian, Other such as Dutch, Japanese, Tokelauan?

All of those seem to owe at least as much to race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship as they do to culture.

If some of us are supposed to be European New Zealanders, which particular European culture are we affiliated to?

I like Spain and its culture, I lived there for three months and have been back three times since then. But I couldn’t claim to have Spanish ethnicity and have even less connection to the many other European cultures.

Given the diversity of Europe it would be difficult to claim a cultural connection to it as a whole. If I identify with any culture outside New Zealand it would be, thanks to my tartan gene, the Scottish one. Scotland is now, thanks to EU membership politically aligned to Europe but that is very different from cultural affiliation.

The form acknowledges this by giving Dutch as an example under other.

Why do only those who regard themselves as having a European cultural affiliation get to claim to be New Zealanders?

It suggests that it isn’t culture but skin colour which matters.

It’s discriminatory and insulting that people of Maori, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Chinese, Indian or any other descent don’t count as New Zealanders except under other.

I have a great niece and great nephew born here whose father is a Kiwi and mother is Argentinean. They are too young to define their cultural affiliation now but I am quite sure it wouldn’t be European.

The more I travel the more I am aware of New Zealand culture which includes elements of different cultures and races but which transcends them, recognises what we have in common and unites us as New Zealanders.

Consistency is important in censuses but so too is accuracy and the ethnic category is no longer accurate for our multi-cultural country.

The Australian census has New Zealander as an ethnic category.

It’s more than time we did too, recognising  New Zealander as category and not lost as a footnote among the others.


NZ fire risk reduced by irrigation

January 9, 2013

The economic, environmental and social benefits of irrigation are widely recognised.

IrrigationNZ points out it also reduces fire risk:

 IrrigationNZ says the fire risk from extreme temperatures being recorded on both sides of the Tasman has been eased in New Zealand by irrigation infrastructure.

The growth of on-farm storage ponds, particularly in Canterbury, has benefited rural fire-fighting crews in New Zealand by providing additional sources of fire-fighting water, says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.

“These ponds hold thousands of litres of water and farmers and irrigation schemes are the first to make water available when a rural fire starts,” says Mr Curtis.

Irrigation schemes throughout the country have also initiated fire-fighting measures of their own. North Otago Irrigation Company, for example, introduced 20 fire hydrants into its irrigation scheme allowing fire-fighting trucks from the Waitaki Rural Fire Authority to refill within seconds.

Irrigation also lessens the risk of fire by maintaining green buffer zones in rural areas that previously were primarily dry land. Towns and cities surrounded by irrigation such as Christchurch, Gisborne, Napier, Martinborough, Ashburton, Invercargill and Blenheim have benefited.

“Green grass doesn’t burn. Irrigation produces vegetation that is less susceptible to fire and ignites more slowly. Irrigating farmers are closely monitoring their fields at this time of the year as they apply water so they’re often the ones who spot early fires.”

“Irrigation can’t remove fire risk completely but the growth of irrigation infrastructure and schemes throughout New Zealand has definitely made fire-fighting water more accessible,” says Mr Curtis.

Before we had irrigation, North Otago was usually tinder dry in January.

Since we’ve been able to water the land it’s green and the fire danger is far less as a result of that.


No Samaritans for diabetic in need

January 9, 2013

A diabetic man who was believed to have been lying on a park bench since Sunday died soon after an ambulance reached him on Monday.

Delta drainage foreman Evan Woodrow said  . . . A Delta worker arrived at the park yesterday morning and telephoned emergency services after he saw Mr Caley lying unconscious on a bench outside the changing rooms. . .

Ambulance staff told him the man was diabetic and were in disbelief that a member of the public had not called emergency services earlier, he said.

A man approached the Delta crew yesterday morning and told them he had seen the man lying there on Sunday, Mr Woodrow said.

”The joker told me that he [Mr Caley] didn’t look well. Why didn’t somebody do something yesterday? They could have walked over and if he couldn’t talk, you would have rung an ambulance, wouldn’t you?”

Would you?

None of us know if we’d be a good Samaritan or if we’d walk on by, until we’re tested.

But I’d like to think I would try to help, especially if like the man who saw him on Sunday, I thought someone looked unwell.


Word play

January 9, 2013

“Why are you always learning new words,” he asked?

“I’m collecting them so I can line them up in order when things get messy,” she said.

“That doesn’t sound like much fun,” he said.

“No, the fun doesn’t start until I relax and let them play,” she said.


January 9 in history

January 9, 2013

1349 The Jewish population of Basel, Switzerland, believed by the residents to be the cause of the ongoing Black Death, was rounded up and incinerated.

1431 Judges’ investigations for the trial of Joan of Arc began in Rouen, France, the seat of the English occupation government.

1768  Philip Astley staged the first modern circus in London.

1773 – Cassandra Austen, English watercolorist and sister of Jane Austen, was born (d. 1845).

1793  Jean-Pierre Blanchard became the first person to fly in a balloon in the United States.

1799 British Prime Minister William Pitt introduced income tax to raise funds for the war against Napoleon.

1806 – Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson received a state funeral and was interred in St Paul’s Cathedral.

1816 Sir Humphry Davy tested the Davy lamp for miners at Hebburn Colliery.

1822  Portuguese prince Pedro I of Brazil decided to stay in Brazil against the orders of the Portuguese king João VI, starting the Brazilian independence process.

1839 The French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype photography process.

1854 Jennie Jerome, American society beauty and mother of Winston Churchill, was born (d. 1921).

1859 Carrie Chapman Catt, American suffragist leader, was born  (d. 1947).

1861  The “Star of the West” incident near Charleston, South Carolina – considered by some historians to be the “First Shots of the American Civil War”.

1878  Umberto I became King of Italy.

1880 – The Great Gale of 1880 devastated parts of Oregon and Washington with high wind and heavy snow.

1894 New England Telephone and Telegraph installed the first battery-operated telephone switchboard in Lexington, Massachusetts.

1896 Warwick Braithwaite, New Zealand-born British conductor, was born (d. 1971).

1898  Gracie Fields, English music hall performer, was born  (d. 1979).

1902 Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Spanish Catholic priest and founder of Opus Dei, was born (d. 1975) .

1903  Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, son of the poet Alfred Tennyson, became the second Governor-General of Australia.

1905 According to the Julian Calendar which was used at the time, Russian workers staged a march on the Winter Palace that ended in the massacre by Tsarist troops known as Bloody Sunday, setting off the Russian Revolution of 1905.

1908  Simone de Beauvoir, French author, was born (d. 1986).

1911 – Gypsy Rose Lee, American burlesque entertainer, dancer, actress, and author (d. 1970)

1913  Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States, was born  (d. 1994).

1916  The Battle of Gallipoli concluded with an Ottoman Empire victory when the last Allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula.

1916 Peter Twinn, English World War II code-breaker, was born (d. 2004) .

1918 Battle of Bear Valley: The last battle of the American Indian Wars.

1920 Clive Dunn, British actor, was born (d. 2012).

1923 Katherine Mansfield died.

Death of Katherine Mansfield

1928  Judith Krantz, American author, was born.

1933 Wilbur Smith, Zambian-British novelist, was born.

1939 Susannah York, British actress, was born.

1941 Joan Baez, American singer and activist, was born.

1942 Lee Kun-hee, Korean industrialist, chairman of Samsung, was born.

1944 –  Jimmy Page, British musician and producer (Led Zeppelin), was born.

1948 – Bill Cowsill, American singer (The Cowsills), was born (d. 2006).

1951 –  Crystal Gayle, American singer, was born.

1951 – The United Nations headquarters officially opened in New York City.

1953 –  Morris Gleitzman, British-Australian children’s author, was born.

1978 – AJ McLean, American singer (Backstreet Boys), was born.

1980 – Sergio García, Spanish golfer, was born.

2005  Rawhi Fattouh succeeded  Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization .

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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