What matters

July 28, 2014

The sideshow might be entertaining for the media and political tragics.

But what really matters is that government policies are working for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

One of the most important of those is in crime reduction which has economic and social benefits.

Crime is awful for victims and costly for taxpayers.

Reducing crime reduces the number of victims and it also redirects criminals to more honest and gainful pursuits.

 

We’re making our communities safer. New Zealand is experiencing its lowest crime rate since 1978. http://ntnl.org.nz/1kexYhI #Working4NZ


BPS working for NZ

July 22, 2014

National set targets for its Better Public Services programme which are showing positive results.

Long-term welfare dependency is reducing and more young people are achieving higher qualifications under the Government’s Better Public Services initiative, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman say.

The Government today published the July update of BPS targets, which confirms more good progress in tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders, however making headway in other areas is slower, Mr English says.

“The Government is committed to making progress on the really difficult issues that affect our communities and families, and particularly the most vulnerable,” he says.

“Taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year on public services to help their fellow New Zealanders and this Government is determined to ensure they get what they pay for. Our focus on reducing welfare dependency, increasing achievement in schools and reducing crime require government agencies to find better solutions and to work with others to implement them.

“We are prepared to spend money on effective programmes which change lives, because what works for the community also works for the Government’s books.”

Dr Coleman says the ambitious goals set by the BPS initiative were chosen to make a real difference to the lives of New Zealanders.

“We have always said some of the targets will be challenging and require determination and teamwork to achieve, and it’s pleasing to see agencies working co-operatively.

“The latest update shows we are making good progress overall. We have now met the targets for reducing total crime and youth crime. There has been good progress in reducing long-term welfare dependency, increasing Level 2 NCEA pass rates and those with New Zealand Qualifications Framework Level 4.

“Progress in the past 12 months towards our target of reducing long-term welfare dependency is encouraging, with 6434 (8.5 per cent) fewer people continuously receiving jobseeker support for more than one year. We are also seeing people stay in employment for longer.

“In other result areas, more work is being done to reduce rheumatic fever, reduce assaults on children, and improve online business transactions.”

Dr Coleman says that because of the BPS programme, agencies are working together more effectively and delivering results through collaboration and innovation.

“Agencies are making better use of data to drive better services and to meet the needs of local communities. Agencies are also learning about what works through research and evaluation,” he says.

“There is a greater focus on chief executives doing what is best for the system as a whole, rather than just looking at the short term interests of their department, and that is supporting the changes needed to achieve results.”

The BPS programme began in 2012 when the Prime Minister announced goals and measurable targets in 10 challenging areas, including reducing long-term welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills and employment, reducing crime, and improving interaction with Government.

The Better Public Service Results July update is here.

Money is being spent where it will have a positive impact.

This is often more expensive in the short term but it will pay off with both social and financial dividends in the medium to longer term.

Behind these numbers are individuals whose lives and outlook are better than they would have been had National not introduced targets and policies that are working for New Zealand.

We’re committed to tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders. You can check out our good progress here: national.org.nz/better-public-services #Working4NZ


Rural round-up

July 15, 2014

Medium scale adverse event declared in Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has declared a medium-scale adverse event for the primary sector in storm-hit Northland.

“This will provide the overarching framework for any Government support as assessments continue to be made.

“The first stage of this is to provide funding for Northland Rural Support Trust (NRST) to deliver help, support, and management advice to farmers and growers. The Trust have been working closely with MPI and local authorities to determine what’s required in the clean-up phase after severe flooding and wind damage.

“The storm has impacted around 80% of the primary sector in Northland with very high winds and heavy rainfall over a solid four day period. I’ve seen for myself the damage today at an avocado orchard severely damaged by wind and dairy farms near Whangarei under water. . .

Grower quits after $100,000 avo thefts – Kristin Edge:

Northland avocado growers are being warned to be on high alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating $100,000 worth of fruit has been stolen over the past five years.

The Whangarei grower, who did not want to be identified because she feared for her safety, said her orchard had been continually targeted by thieves and she was selling up due to the financial losses and emotional stress.

The latest theft comes only days after an industry-wide warning was issued to growers to be extra vigilant to protect the new season’s crop. . .

Farmers focus on debt – Jeremy Tauri:

We spend a lot of time worrying about the residential property market, if prices are out of control and how young people will get their first homes.

But although we have focused on the price of a house and section in the suburbs, many people have ignored what’s been happening out of town.

The rural sector is the biggest driver of this country’s economy and in the regions we feel the impact of farmers’ fortunes even more acutely. But although we’ve been bemoaning that, nationwide, house prices have increased two-and-a-half times since 2000, rural land prices have trebled. Real Estate Institute statistics show the median price a hectare for farms sold in the three months to May 2014 was $25,017. . . .

Shepherd makes tracks to France - Sally Rae:

Come September it will be ”au revoir Waihaorunga” and ”bonjour France” for young South Canterbury shepherd Alex Reekers.

Mr Reekers (23), a member of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club, and Mitchel Hoare (19), of Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, will represent New Zealand at the final of the World Young Shepherds Challenge in Auvergne, France, in September.

The pair earned the top scores in the preliminary round of the challenge, held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final at Lincoln. . . .

Trust works more at top of the cliff – Sally Rae:

The Otago Rural Support Trust’s emphasis is changing.

Traditionally, the work of the trust had been ”the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”, mostly during adverse weather events like floods, snow storms and droughts.

But increasingly, the trust was ”doing more work at the top of the cliff”, assisting rural families who were under stress, chairman Gavan Herlihy, of Wanaka, said. . . .

New agri-chemicals safety campaign:

A new rural safety campaign is underway, and this one aims to encourage farmers and growers to wear the right safety gear when using agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has teamed up with agri-chemical industry body Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand for the campaign. Rural retailers are also participating by displaying posters and other information in more than 260 stores.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said the main point was to eliminate the “she’ll be right” attitude towards farm chemical and safety gear. . .


Stop suppression don’t abuse power

July 13, 2014

Rodney Hide writes on a sexual predator:

. . . His victim is left scared to be in her own home and is no longer the bubbly person she once was.

In August 2012, the man pleaded guilty to a charge of performing an indecent act intended to insult or offend a woman.

He was convicted and ordered to pay $5000 emotional harm reparation and $1500 in counselling costs. But earlier this year Judge David Saunders discharged him without conviction and gave him name suppression. In doing so the judge accepted the attacker had “carried a bit of a cross” in the time since his attack first came before the court.

A “bit of a cross”? And the victim? What does the judge think she’s had to carry? The man should be carrying a cross: he’s the offender.

I know something of this case. I certainly know the attacker. And I know some of our leading politicians know him and know, too, of his attitude and behaviour towards women. It was a topic of conversation when I was in Parliament. There are possibly other victims. I know one but she will never come forward.

Forget Rolf Harris, Maggie. He’s behind bars. Do the right thing and name this self-confessed offender in Parliament. Do what Parliamentary privilege allows: make right what our justice system got wrong.

Name the sexual predator under privilege and enable other possible victims to come forward. Some of your colleagues know who he is. Ask them. Or me.

You, Maggie, can do what no other New Zealander can do: you can name him.

His victim is clear: “He is a dirty b****** and people should know … For me, it’s not over – I want his name out there.” And of him? “There is no remorse there; absolutely no remorse whatsoever.” Sound familiar?

Hide is right that the woman has been wronged, first by the man and then again by a justice system which has suppressed his name.

But using parliamentary privilege to break suppression would be another wrong.

MPs can’t put themselves above the law by abusing their position no matter how much right is on their side.

A better course of action would be change the law as requested by the campaign to stop the suppression.


Stop the suppression

July 9, 2014

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.

“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.

“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.

“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .

Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .

The petition is here.

The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.

In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.

Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.

Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.

Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.

A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.

Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.


Guilty until proven innocent

July 9, 2014

Labour wants to end the presumption of innocence in rape cases:

The Labour Party’s plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent — a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift.

But Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little said the current system is broken and in need of a major shake-up. The party favours an inquisitorial system, where a judge interviewed the alleged victim after conferring with prosecution and defence lawyers.

The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual. 

“The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent,” Mr Little said. . .

He said the issue of proof would only apply where allegations of rape had been raised.

“It is pretty radical thing to say that ‘all sex is rape’ unless you prove consent. The reality is that in 99.9 per cent of cases, no one is being asked to prove consent.” . .

An inquisitorial could be less traumatic for victims than the current adversarial system.

But requiring defendants to prove consent is a reversal of one of the tenets of our justice system – that people are innocent until proven guilty.

It would mean defendants would be regarded as guilty until they could prove their innocence.

Rape is abhorrent.

It is a crime which inflicts physical and mental damage and for which there is no excuse.

But that doesn’t justify reversing the burden of proof to require defendants to prove their innocence.


Digging deep to help neighbours

July 8, 2014

Our district has been deeply shaken by the shooting of more than 200 sheep.

But good can come from bad and that was illustrated at the special fundraising sale at Waiareka yesterday:

The sale raised close to $22,500 for the Stackhouse and Dodd families, both victims of recent sheep killings on their properties, with stock agents reporting ”generous” prices being paid.

Meanwhile, about $11,400 has been deposited in the Westpac bank account set up by Rural Women NZ North Otago.

When contacted, Ngapara farmer Peter Stackhouse said he was overwhelmed by the support shown.

”Words can hardly describe it … we’re really, really privileged to be in the North Otago area. We didn’t expect anything; it’s very, very humbling,” he said. . .

While the sale was about country people showing their support, he said he had also had calls from urban dwellers who were also very concerned and thinking about them.

The next best thing now would be for someone to be apprehended for the offending, he said.

Tapui farmer John Dodd said it showed ”good human nature against the opposite side of it” and he thanked the public for their support.

”Once you pick on one farmer, in my opinion, you’re picking on the whole lot. Farmers respond with kind hearts,” Mr Dodd said.

The sale was an initiative of Federated Farmers and the community, and it drew a much larger crowd than usual to the weekly Waiareka stock sale.

Organiser Greg Ruddenklau was ”over the bloody moon” with the result, after 168 sheep and several cattle beasts were donated.

”It just shows how much people care really, doesn’t it?” Mr Ruddenklau said.

While demonstrating the level of support for the farmers affected, it also showed that people ”don’t want these sort of things happening in North Otago, or anywhere”. . .

During spirited bidding, auctioneer Rod Naylor quipped: ”I wish it was like this every week”. . .

Mr Naylor said prices overall at the sale were ”generous”, compared to usual market value, which showed the buyers’ goodwill.

He described the result as ”tremendous” saying both the numbers of stock yarded and the prices achieved were higher than what had been expected.

Police said there were no further reported similar incidents over the weekend.

The first incident happened over the weekend of June 21-22 when 195 sheep were killed on the Stackhouse property, and at least a further 20 sheep were killed on the Dodd farm the following weekend.

In both incidents, police believed a firearm was used. Police actively patrolled the Ngapara area over the weekend and would continue to conduct patrols in the area, Detective Warren Duncan said.

A small investigation team, including some Dunedin staff, was working through information received from members of the public and carrying out inquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on (03) 433-1400 or call Det Duncan confidentially on (03) 433-1416.

Everyone in the area knows that this could have happened to anyone of us and everyone is happy to dig deep to help neighbours.

Money can’t replace decades of breeding which went in to the stud stock which were shot, nor can it take away the fear. But the generosity and good will locally and from further afield is heart warming.

We’ve been impressed by the police response too.

One of our staff was stopped and questioned on his way home late on Saturday night and a woman who had stopped to admire the stars found her car surrounded by police.


Speak up to stop it

July 7, 2014

David Farrar asks: how did Jimmy Saville and Ralph Harris get away with years of serial abuse?

He gives several reasons: the times, their charity work, would they be believed?, police attitude and institutional cover-ups.

Maggie Barry’s experience gives another credence to the last point:

She says Harris “showed his dark side” while preparing for the pre-recorded interview when he began to touch her inappropriately.

“[He did] the kind of wandering hands up the leg, sort of leaning into me. But once he put his hand on my leg it was all over – I wasn’t going to put up with it,” says Ms Barry.

“I stood up and said ‘you can stop that right now’ and went and got the operator who came in, the publicist came in and basically smoothed it all over.”

Ms Barry says she called him a “sleazy creep” and that was when Harris got nasty.

“I got the impression, thinking back on it, that he wasn’t often challenged,” she says.

“I was in my mid-20s and able to stand up for myself and I did. But if I had been a young person or had been uncertain or over-awed a bit by his celebrity status, I think it would have been a very different experience.” . . .

Maggie wouldn’t have been the only one who made a fuss so other people must have known. Some of them could have spoken up but if they did it didn’t get much further and that allowed the offending to continue.

But it’s not easy to speak up.

An older man where I worked years ago had a reputation for touching younger women.

One day I was alone at my desk when he came into the room and put his arm around me.

I must have looked uncomfortable because he said, “Don’t worry, there’s no-one else here.”

I had the presence of mind to say, “That’s why I’m worried.” He dropped his arm and walked away.

I told one of the older women who said, he was always doing that, and I didn’t tell anything else.

None of us thought he’d go any further and as far as I know he didn’t.

But I’m sure none of us complained because it was it was relatively minor offending and we didn’t think anything would be done.

Standards of behaviour have changed in the intervening years .

I think this sort of unwanted attention would be less likely to happen now. If it did it ought to be easier to speak up and more likely action would be taken to stop it.

However, that won’t always be the case  and the offending will often be a lot more serious – as it was with Harris and Saville.

None of the victims can be blamed for not speaking up.

It takes courage to go public, especially if the abuse is serious and the victim young.

But speaking up does encourage other victims to complain and it could prevent further abuse .

Since Maggie spoke up others have come forward showing that one person speaking up can give confidence to and empower others, simply by showing they’re not the only ones and it’s not them who should be ashamed.


Must not ignore nor accept family violence

July 3, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced a suite of measures aimed at addressing family violence.

“Quite simply, the rate of family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable,” says Mr Key.

While crime is at a 35-year low, violent crime is decreasing at a much slower rate.

“Almost 50 per cent of all homicides in New Zealand are a result of family violence. That is, on average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.”

Mr Key says together with the Government’s focus on vulnerable children, this work will help New Zealand families live without violence and fear.

“Firstly, Tariana Turia has released the Government’s response to the Expert Advisory Group’s report on Family Violence. Of the 22 recommendations in the report, 19 have been accepted in whole or part by the Government, and I thank the Advisory Group members for their work.

“Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction.

“Today I am also announcing further measures to address family violence through Justice, Police and Corrections, which will build on the foundation we have laid in place.”

These include:

  • The establishment of a Chief Victims’ Advisor to the Minister of Justice
  • The trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims at risk of serious harm or death
  • The trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency
  • Introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

“I would like to thank Ministers Judith Collins, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia for leading the work to foster a long-term change in behaviour, and to protect people from the misery of violence in the home,” says Mr Key.

“This Government has already undertaken a range of work to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

“A great example of this is the recent passing of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill, which ensures that New Zealand’s most at-risk children get priority,” says Mr Key.

The new law provides 10 new Children’s Teams to wrap services around at-risk children early to keep them safe from harm, introduces new vetting and screening checks for government and community agency staff working with children, and puts the onus on parents who have killed, severely abused or neglected a child to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

“We have also increased the penalty for breaching protection orders and improved non-violence programmes for offenders,” says Mr Key

“However, it is important to remember that while governments can make laws, it is up to us as individual New Zealanders to change our attitudes to family violence.

“It is time we learned we must not ignore it, nor should we accept it,” says Mr Key.

 

New Zealand families should not have to live with violence and fear. We’re taking practical steps to address this. https://www.national.org.nz/news/features/protecting-families

Groups working with vulnerable children are supportive of the initiative:

The Red Raincoat Trust says the Chief Victims Advisor will give victims a voice:

The Red Raincoat Trust is delighted to hear of Justice Minister, Judith Collin’s plans to appoint a Chief Victims Advisor. “We are rapt; victims will now have an official voice within the criminal justice process. A Chief Victims Advisor will be able to engage directly with the victims enabling them to understand how the criminal justice process works for them. Until now, this hasn’t happened which often left victims vulnerable and re-victimised” says Debbie Marlow, spokesperson for the Red Raincoat Trust.

Ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley announced the Chief Victims Advisor today as part of a package which is hoped will help prevent family violence. Other initiatives announced today include an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death and a multi-agency response system for domestic violence.

“The package announced today will help ensure our families and communities are kept safe and it shows us that this government is committed to ensuring that our victim’s voices are heard and agencies are responding to their needs. Well done!”.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is also supportive:

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has congratulated the Justice Minister, Judith Collins on today’s announcement regarding the establishment of the Chief Victims Advisor.

“Finally victims of crime will be afforded the true advocacy and support that they are entitled to” says Ruth Money Sensible Sentencing Trust.

We have been actively promoting the concept of victim advocacy for years now and this proposed position will go a long way to balancing victims’ rights within the system and ensuring that the Ministry of Justice stays informed regarding the needs of victims” says Money. . . .

“These moves and proactive measures from Minister Collins and the Government must be applauded. For too long the system has seen the rights of the offender or alleged offender come well before those of the victim and public safety, today we see some balance being proposed”

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomes announcements about the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims.

The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths and prevent family violence. Last week it released a report analysing data collected on all family violence homicides that took place over a four-year period. The Committee urged organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence, rather than expecting the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.

The Chair of the FVDRC, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the Committee’s previous report recommended the development of a nationally consistent high-risk case management process and it is pleasing to see this is being trialled.

“The sheer volume of police call outs for family violence often means the most dangerous cases of family violence do not get the attention they need within the systems we currently have,” she says.

“The aim of an intensive case management service is to bring the key agencies together to share information, as well as to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan.”

Julia Tolmie says high-risk case management teams overseas have been highly successful in preventing deaths from family violence. . .

The FVDRC also supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

The measures announce deal with reported crime.

Not all abuse and neglect is reported and some isn’t reported until it’s too late.

It is equally important to address the causes of abuse and neglect to prevent them.

The seriousness of the problem is shown by For the Sake of our Children Trust in a 24-year snapshot of 58 deaths of children as a result of neglect or abuse.

It points to clear risk factors:

. . . Based on the 58 known cases listed, 51 cases identified child’s biological parents were NOT married. The perpetrator responsible for the death indicated 27 of the deaths tabulated had a ‘stepfather’ or ‘boyfriend/partner of the mother being responsible or part responsible for the child’s death. The remaining figures for the perpetrator was indicated the mother or relative of the child or unknown.  . . .

Apropos of this, Lindsay Mitchell notes this is a fair assumption given that around 87 percent of children who have contact with CYF appear in the benefit system very early in their lives.

The benefit system has a place as a safety net, but it can also be a trap which increases the chances of poorer outcomes for children, including increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.

Moving families from welfare to work has obvious financial benefits for them and the country.

The social benefits are equally important. they include better educational and health outcomes and a lower risk of neglect and abuse.


113 breaches referred 0 prosecutions?

July 2, 2014

The Electoral Commission has referred 113 breaches of the electoral Act to police in the last three years and none has resulted in a prosecution:

Figures supplied by the Electoral Commission reveal 113 cases have been referred to police for investigation since the beginning of 2011 – not one has resulted in a prosecution.

Daljit Singh, a Labour Party candidate in Auckland’s first Super City elections, was convicted of electoral fraud earlier this year but the actions on which the charge of electoral fraud were based  took place more than three years ago.

Back to the original story:

It’s a figure Justice Minister Judith Collins wasn’t aware of.

Ms Collins doesn’t know the basis on which the Electoral Commission referred the cases to police, and says it’s something she’d have to find out more about before she could express an opinion.

While surprised at the figure, Ms Collins remains critical of opposition party calls for the Electoral Commission to be given the power to prosecute breaches of electoral laws.

“That would be an interesting situation since as I recall it’s mostly their parties that are actually responsible for most of the breaches, but that would be very interesting. That would be turkeys voting for an early Christmas wouldn’t it.” . . .

It would be very interesting and that might not be the answer.

But all those referrals and not a single prosecution is a very strong indication that the system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Alleged breaches need to be taken seriously and dealt with quickly – preferably before the election which might be affected by them.


More sheep shot

July 1, 2014

A week after nearly 200 sheep were shot on a North Otago farm at least 15 more have been shot on another farm in the area on Sunday night or early yesterday morning.

. . . They [police] are not yet saying whether they were shot dead or whether they think the deaths are linked.

“Both of these events are very unusual but we appreciate that they will be creating a high level of concern amongst local farmers and the community in the Ngapara area,” says Detective Warren Duncan.

Witnesses who may have seen anything in the Crown Hill, Conlans Road and Peaks Road area were asked to contact police.

Last weekend, 195 sheep were shot at Peter Stackhouse’s property over two nights. Many had to be put down because the bullets did not kill them.

Police were baffled as to why so many were shot but not taken for their meat.

However, Det Duncan said “good information” had come in on the killings. . .

The area has been plagued by unsolved crimes going back several decades:

Whether you believe in lunar madness or not, there is evidence to suggest the full moon has cast its spell over Ngapara in the past 40 years.

As inquiries continue into the slaughter of about 195 sheep on a Ngapara farm last weekend, so too do investigations into a 40-year trail of unsolved crimes in the area – most of them committed during a full moon, according to Oamaru police.

”[Farmers] all know that on a full moon [the offender(s)] plays up – full moon, watch out, keep everything locked up,” Community Constable Bruce Dow, of Oamaru, said.

”They say: ‘Full moon, [they'll] be out there tonight’.”

A sense of fear remained in the community and farmers had always been aware of suspicious activity, he said.

”This has been a bone of contention for that community for years and years and it’s not stopped,” he said.

”It’s criminal behaviour by an individual or individuals and it’s causing the community of Enfield, Ngapara and Georgetown a lot of concern.

”It hasn’t been forgotten – if the offender out there thinks that he or she has got away with this, they are fooling themselves.”

Police can trace a series of fires and sabotage of vehicles and farm equipment back to 1975 in the Ngapara area, extended in some cases to Enfield and Georgetown.

Const Dow said the unsolved crimes were unlikely to be linked to the shootings of ewes and hoggets on the Stackhouse family farm last Friday and Saturday nights, but police were still appealing for information. . .

Historic crimes in the Ngapara area included theft of property from tractors, stock theft, arson of hay sheds, paddocks, forests and houses and serious damage to tractors, and machinery.

”Engines have been destroyed on tractors, headers and vehicles, we believe by the use of carborundum, a grinding paste,” Const Dow said.

”Tyres have been punctured, wheel nuts have been loosened off tractors and cars. Sheep have been stolen and ear tags from one farm have been found down offal pits of another.”

Fences had been cut, electric fences tampered with and one farmer lost more than 2250 litres of diesel when the taps from a fuel tank were turned on.

The Stackhouse family farm was also targeted about 20 years ago, with farm machinery seriously damaged, Const Dow said.

In many cases, damage had been subtle, such as holes drilled in hydraulic hoses and nail holes poked into a tractor’s air filter.

”Everything has been covertly done – they’ve been done under cover of darkness and a lot of them were done so they wouldn’t be discovered until when the equipment was needed the most,” he said.

”Old-timers … will remember lots of these incidents and they will have a very firm opinion of who’s caused it.” . . .

Not only old-timers have a firm opinion of the identity of the perpetrator of the on-going crimes but there has never been enough proof to lay charges.

However, these mass shooting are something new and very unwelcome.

While killing other people’s stock for meat can’t be condoned it can be understood.

But this senseless shooting, killing and leaving some animals still alive but badly injured, is evil and has left everyone in the area very worried.

The crimes have also galvanised community spirit. An email arrived from Federated Farmers advising:

Community fundraiser in support of the Stackhouse Family – Waiareka Sale, Monday 7 July

Federated Farmers and the North Otago community are holding a special fundraising sale to assist Peter and Janine Stackhouse  following the recent brutal attack on their stock, where approximately 200 sheep were shot.

When:Monday 7 July 2014

Where: Waiareka Sale Yards (after their usual morning sale)

If people would like to donate ewes or lambs it would be greatly appreciated, if so, we’d ask for ewes or lambs to be delivered to the Waiareka sale yards, on the morning of the sale (Monday, 7 July).

If you’d like to donate stock but are unable to deliver them to the sale yards, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

If instead you’d like to give a cash donation to the Stackhouse’s, a fundraiser account has been set up by Rural Woman NZ and the details are below.

Federated Farmers would like to publicly thank PGG Wrightson, Rural Women NZ North Otago and CRT Farmlands for their assistance.

Fundraiser details:

Deliver ewes or lambs on the morning of the sale, or if this is not possible, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

Fundraising account for cash donations:

Westpac: 03 0937 0071238 00

Account: Rural Women NZ North Otago

Reference number: “Farm Stock”

For more information please contact

Lyndon Strang
Vice-President Federated Farmers North Otago


Balancing victims’ rights

June 28, 2014

Victims of serious violent and sexual crimes will be better protected by a new order to help prevent their offender from contacting them, Justice Minister Judith Collins says.

The Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill, which passed its final reading today, creates a ‘non-contact order’ to reduce the risk of unwanted contact between victims and their offender.

“Victims of serious crime deserve peace of mind, so they can recover and move on with their lives,” Ms Collins says.

“This Government has made perfectly clear its commitment to putting victims at the heart of our criminal justice system. Introducing these non-contact orders is one more way to ensure victims feel safe and protected from further offending.” 

The new orders can be applied to a person who has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a specified violent or sexual offence. The orders may also prohibit the offender from contacting the victim in any way, including by electronic means. Where necessary, the orders may ban the offender from entering, living, or working in a particular area.

Victims will be able to apply to the court for a non-contact order at any time after the offender has been sentenced.  An order can also cover an offender’s associates.

Ms Collins says the new orders reinforce the Government’s commitment to putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.

“The passage of this Bill supports this Government’s unrelenting commitment to putting victims first. We’re ensuring victims’ are protected and their voices in our criminal justice system remain strong.”

This measure tips the balance of justice in favour of victims.

We’re delivering on our commitment to put victims at the heart of our criminal justice system by protecting them from further offending. https://www.national.org.nz/news/news/media-releases/detail/2014/06/24/new-orders-will-protect-and-make-victims-strong


Rural round-up

June 25, 2014

Neighbours to sheep shooting worried:

Neighbours of a North Otago farm where nearly 200 sheep have been shot say they also fear what will happen next.

Police are investigating the unexplained slaughter in Ngapara, 30km inland from Oamaru at the weekend. Peter Stackhouse discovered the dead sheep, and others wandering injured, at sites about 1km inside his farm over two successive nights.

On Saturday morning, he found 110 sheep that had been killed and though he shifted the flock, another 80 hoggets were killed on Saturday night.

Mr Stackhouse said the the killing of his stock was a great shock and he was not sleeping well, worrying about what will happen next. Although the sheep were shot, he had not found any spent cartridges or bullets. . .

Lincoln and Canterbury – is a merger the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how Lincoln University is facing hard times, and is shedding lecturing staff in core areas of land-based education. I suggested one solution could be for Lincoln to become much more focused on its true areas of specialisation and to greatly reduce the managerial and marketing spend which has recently ballooned. The other alternative is to link with Canterbury University.

Unfortunately, the first alternative is unlikely to occur. It would require the senior management team to reverse key policies with which they are collectively associated.

So the other alternative of joining with Canterbury University now needs careful scrutiny. The Tertiary Education Commission stated earlier this year that in its opinion New Zealand had too many Universities, and if that really is the case then Lincoln surely has to be first cab off the rank. Also, Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor (VC) himself said some two years back that, if his proposed growth strategy failed, then the alternative would be to join “the fine university down the road”. . .

Sex and inbreeding (in bees) – Peter K Dearden:

Tomorrow I am speaking at the National Bee Keepers Association conference in Whanganui and thought I might write a bit about what we have been doing to help me get things clear.

Much of my research work is on bees; trying to learn how they work, trying to find new ways to protect them and, occasionally doing research to help the beekeeping industry.

Beekeeping is a reasonably large business in New Zealand, making over $100 Million per annum in bee-related exports. More importantly, it is estimated that Bees bring $5.1 Billion each year to the New Zealand economy through pollination. Bees are a vital part of our primary production sector and we need to care about them. . .

Alliance venison plants cleared for China:

The Alliance meat group has had a breakthrough in getting both of its venison processing plants certified to supply the China market, that doubles the number of listed New Zealand venison plans to four.

New Zealand has had a long established trade in deer velvet or antler to China and some other deer products.

But venison is relatively new to that market. . .

Return to profit: Blue Sky smiling – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats’ return to profitability spells an end to about two and-a-half years of turmoil in the international sheep meat industry, chairman Graham Cooney says.

Directors were ”quite rightly proud” of how the Southland-based company had not only survived but moved forward in a time when the sheep meat processing and exporting industry had reputedly lost $200 million, he said.

The company has recorded a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March. . . .

South Canterbury ag-student is finalist in Green Agriculture Innovation Award:

Twenty-year old University student Genevieve Steven, of Timaru, is the winner of the Viafos Youth Award, putting her in the running against nine other finalists as the supreme award winner of the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) in New Zealand.

The youngest contender for the award, Ms Steven is in her second year at Lincoln University on a DairyNZ scholarship studying biochemistry, animal sciences, plant sciences, soil science and management papers.

Her ultimate goal is a move into biological farming. “I would like to be an educator and advisor to farmers already using the principles of biological farming, but also take the concept of ‘biological farming’ to those who don’t know much about it. I enjoy the challenge of changing people’s perceptions.” . . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

2014 Young Viticulturist of the Year set to be the biggest and best yet:

With just two weeks to go until the first regional rounds of Young Viticulturist of The Year 2014, this year’s competition is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet! Now in its ninth year Young Viticulturist of The Year will host a fourth regional competition for the first time with Wairarapa Winegrowers, joining Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.

Competition organiser, Emma Taylor said “Since the success of Braden Crosby from Borthwick Estate who was the 2012 national champion, it seems that many viticulturists in the Wairarapa region have been inspired by him and there is now enough interest for Wairarapa to hold their own round of the competition.” Braden Crosby will use his experience as a past competitor to shape the competition which will be held at Te Kairanga Winery on the 30th July alongside the regional Silver Secateurs competition. . .

 


Shot sheep shock

June 24, 2014

The shooting of around 200 sheep on a Ngapara farm has shocked the community.

Peter Stackhouse’s farm is in out-of-the-way Ngapara, about 25 kilometres inland from Oamaru, and the offenders left no clues as to their identities or motives.

Mr Stackhouse discovered a paddock on his 240ha farm looking like a battlefield on Saturday morning, littered with dead and bloodied sheep.

“I initially thought we must have had dogs in overnight. And then I looked at a few and I thought that it’s odd that their legs aren’t ripped apart or something,” he says.

He wanted a second opinion, with his vet confirming the head and leg injuries were all from bullet wounds.

But many of animals still had to be euthanised.

“[The vet] and I spent probably two to three hours walking around cutting the throats of lots of them, because they weren’t dead. They were lying on their sides kicking, or some were walking around in a dazed state,” says Mr Stackhouse.

The first paddock targeted by the offenders is more than 1 kilometre from the nearest road. Police can’t find any evidence of wheel tracks, and it’s believed the shooters had to have walked in to access the area.

The stock loss will cost the small farm around $30,000. . .

The family has been farming around Ngapara for decades and are community stalwarts.

That is a big loss for them but and it’s made worse when it’s combined with cruelty to animals and the knowledge that at least one person with a firearm is at large with evil intent in the area.

That police found no tyre tracks, footprints or cartridges deepens the mystery and the concern.


Helping vulnerable children

June 20, 2014

There is no excuse for giving children nothing but the love and care they need.

That doesn’t stop some people neglecting or abusing them which is why there’s a need for the Vulnerable Children Bill which was passed into law yesterday.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett explains:

. . . This Bill is a critical step in giving effect to changes in the Children’s Action Plan.

These include ensuring joint accountability across Justice, Health, Education, Police and Social Development, for the wellbeing of vulnerable children.

They also include the new requirements for the screening and vetting of Government workers and contractors who work with children.

All up these new requirements will cover around 182,000 New Zealanders.

There are also new workforce restrictions to prevent those with serious convictions, who pose a danger to children, from coming into contact with them.

The legislation will also switch the onus on parents who have killed, or severely abused or neglected a child, and they will now have to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven.

It has more than 30 interwoven initiatives and it will:

• bring the right people together in communities around our vulnerable kids.

• give us a whole lot more options to respond to the different needs of children.

Firstly, we want to support vulnerable children and work alongside their families to keep them safe so that they never reach the point where they need the involvement of Child, Youth and Family.

That’s where our new Children’s Teams come in, along with the Hub and the Vulnerable Kids Information System, or ViKI.

Children’s Teams bring together frontline professionals from health, education, welfare and other agencies to wrap services around children and their families.

They work with children and young people who are vulnerable, but are best helped outside Child, Youth and Family’s statutory service.

As well as doctors, teachers and social workers there is Plunket, Family Start, Whanau Ora, parenting services, and budgeting services to name a few.

But too often vulnerable children are at the back of the queue for these services.

They have parents or caregivers who don’t know enough, or simply don’t care enough, to prioritise and advocate for their needs.

These children need to be at the front and centre of the queue,

What I have had to consider is whether these vulnerable children should get to jump the queue, and get in front of other children whose needs may be as pressing, but who have parents or caregivers fighting in their corner.

I am unapologetic in saying that yes they should, because it is they who are most at risk.

Children’s Teams will understand the unique needs of each child they deal with, and pull together a team who can make the most difference to get alongside the child and family.

They will be able to fast track access to services, and carve a clear path for vulnerable children to the support they need.

Our two pilot teams in Rotorua and Whangarei have worked with over 110 children so far and we are hearing about:

• better attendance at health appointments

• better parenting

• re-enrolments at early childhood and school

• better access to welfare support

• happier children

• better behaviour

• and reduced offending.

There’s been a lot of learning, and some hurdles along the way, but it’s clear that the mix of services and the early support is making a difference to children’s lives.

And by the middle of next year we will have eight new Children’s Teams in action.

Alongside this we’re developing a Vulnerable Kids Information System where frontline professionals like doctors and teachers can go online to register concerns about a child.

ViKI will help us join those dots into a picture about what is going on for a child.

We’re also setting up a Hub where people can report their concerns about a child quickly and easily, or get help and advice.

Depending on what’s happening for each child, the Hub will triage them to the level of support they need.

The initiatives contained in the Children’s Action Plan are all connected to each other and firmly place vulnerable children at the front and centre.

These are the children who have no one to speak up for them.

If they are not the core work and priority for police, paediatricians, social workers and community workers, then who is?

I would like to thank the Social Services Committee and all the New Zealanders that made submissions for their valuable contribution to this bill.

This legislation goes beyond this House, and beyond politics.

It goes into the home of every New Zealander whether they have children or not, because the wellbeing of our vulnerable is the measure of the heart of this country.

As proud as I am of the opportunities and support available for most of us, there are too many left out and too many let down.

As I said, there are 23,000 cases of substantiated abuse each year.

There are eight children killed by the people who should hold them, love them, and care for them.

As Minister, I expect the results of our work with vulnerable children to be that by which I am judged, and I am investing everything I have into this.

It is crucial we get it right – not in a few years, or ‘in the future,’ but now.

This legislation is a crucial step underpinning a much wider piece of work that will fundamentally change the way we work with vulnerable children and their families in New Zealand.

It will make a difference.

The law can’t be in every home, nor should it be.

But it does need to be able to act to protect children who are let down by their families.

 

Children need our protection. National is doing everything possible to keep them safe.</p><br /><br />
<p>Learn more: <a href=http://ntnl.org.nz/1uEHaLf&#8221; width=”444″ height=”332″ />

You’d think this would be something that would get cross-party support, but it didn’t:

The Vulnerable Children Bill passed its final stage by 105 – 10 votes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon after only the Green Party and Mana Party’s Hone Harawira voted against it. . .

Green Party MP Jan Logie said Ms Bennett had failed to deal to the main problem of child poverty. . .

Poverty is a problem but it is not an excuse for the neglect and abuse of children.

The Minister said, the Bill is just one part of a much bigger programme – the relevant piece from the extract above explains:

. . . But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven. . .

The Green Party and Harawira put their blinkers on and voted against a Bill which isn’t pretending to give all the answers but will address part of the problem.

Shame on them.


Which men are violent to children?

June 18, 2014

The Parenting Place asks: which men are violent to children?

The news report of a 32 year old man arrested in relation to the death of an infant will not be the only incident of its type that you hear of this year – men assaulting children happens far too often. It’s tragic in many, many ways and one of the sad consequences of it is that stories like this tend to obscure a very important fact: men are good with children and good for children.

Not all men, obviously.

But not most men either, just as not all women are good with children and some are abusive.

Research shows which men are statistically likely to be safer and which are more likely to be a risk. By the way, it does not mean that a man with ‘risk factors’ will actually be violent to children, it is just the way the probability tilts.

A big factor: if a man is violent to women he is far more likely to be violent to children[1]. Even if he doesn’t physically harm the children, just witnessing the violence against their mother can create many of the same long term psychological consequences as actual physical abuse[2]. Sadly, one of those long term consequences is that those children, in turn, are likely to grow to be violent abusers themselves[3] in later life. It certainly is not their fault, but if you are looking for risk factors, a man who grew up in a violent, abusive home is more of a risk.

A third risk factor is the type of relationship the man has with the mother of the children. A child with married biological parents has less than a tenth the risk of abuse as child with a single mother with a boyfriend[4]. A 2005 study published in Pediatrics found that “[c]hildren residing in households with unrelated adults were nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries than children residing with 2 biological parents.”[5] Why? It seems marriage makes good men better. A man willing to enter into a committed long term relationship with the mother and the child is willing to ‘settle down’, learn the skills and be attentive to children.

This doesn’t mean violence doesn’t happen within marriages, but the chances of it happening are reduced in committed long-term relationships.

I want to wade a little bit beyond the evidence and research and get into the deep water of conjecture and opinion – what is going to be our response to the idea that there are damaged, dangerous men in our world? “Mums: guard your hearts and homes! Don’t let them in and turn them out if they get in!” is too harsh, not just on men but on women as well. Just as these men are largely the products of circumstances they did not choose, so are the women who will be vulnerable to them. Their tragically low self-esteem stops them from seeing what might be obvious. For our little families to survive, our society needs to be a big family – look out for each other. Warn, protect, support.

Normal is different for different people and families.

For me it was parents who loved each other and their children. I was surrounded by adults who modelled good behaviour, set boundaries and enforced consequences when they were breached.

That taught me not just what was acceptable to and expected of me, but also what I could expect and accept from others.

Sadly this isn’t normal for those who suffer from violence and nor for many who inflict it on others.

That doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it helps to explain it and points to one of the ways of breaking the cycle – teaching people the importance of committed and relationships in loving homes where unrestrained anger and violence are neither normal nor acceptable.

That’s one prescription but it won’t be easy to administer.

 

 

 


The People’s Report

June 17, 2014

The People’s Report – the result of the inquiry into violence funded by Owen Glenn – which was released yesterday claims a “dysfunctional” court system, “broken” social services and a binge-drinking culture form major barriers to protecting children and stopping family violence.

Its’ recommendations include:

  • Fragmented services brought to a single point of access;
  • A code of rights and an independent forum where victims and survivors can be heard and air their grievances;
  • Recognition child abuse and domestic violence happens in all parts of society and is often considered normal;
  • Address poverty and social differences and require agencies to collaborate;
  • Recognise professionals, frontline workers and legal professionals need better training.
There might be merit in the first two and the third is true – contrary to popular belief domestic violence and child abuse aren’t restricted to the poor and uneducated.
That spoils the imperative for the fourth point – addressing poverty and social differences.
There are very good reasons for addressing the causes of poverty but if domestic violence happens in all parts of society relieving poverty won’t solve the problem.
Another recommendation is to remove the presumption of innocence so the burden of proof falls on the alleged perpetrator.
That is a perversion of one of the tenets on which our justice system is built – that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.
Another contributing factor mentioned is binge drinking.
There are lots of good reasons for tackling that too – but does alcohol fuel violence or do violent people drink more?
I’ve seen lots of drunks who aren’t violent people sober and none have become violent when drunk.
Domestic violence and child abuse are dark stains on our society.
The causes are complex and solutions must be based on more than anecdotes.

The full report is here.


Tractor not ideal get-away vehicle

June 10, 2014

Police think two men they were pursuing have used a stolen tractor as a get-away vehicle:

. . . Police were pursuing two men in a car in Te Aroha at 11pm on Monday night when their vehicle crashed into a paddock.

The two men fled and officers were unable to find them despite using search dogs.

On Tuesday morning at 7am a local farmer reported his John Deere tractor was missing. . . .

The average tractor is big and slow-moving which isn’t what’s normally wanted a get-away vehicle.

 


Rape is never right

June 8, 2014

An Indian Minister said, rape is “sometimes right, sometimes wrong”.

He’s wrong.

Rape is sexual intercourse without consent.

It doesn’t matter who does it to whom, how or why.

It is always a crime.

It can never be right.

 


$10.4m for sexual violence services

May 1, 2014

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew have announced $10.4 million in new operating funding to support sexual violence services over the next two years.

“This funding boost in Budget 2014 will provide immediate stability for the specialist services providing vital support for New Zealanders and their families impacted by sexual violence,” Mrs Bennett says.

“It is a basic right that people should feel safe and secure and free of fear, which is too often taken away from people through sexual violence.”

“The sector requires extra resourcing, especially around the availability of 24/7 crisis call-out and emergency counselling services.”

The extra funding will include support for:

  • Frontline crisis-response services.
  • Community-based treatment services.
  • Services for male survivors.
  • People accessing medical and forensic services.

“We’re committed to providing the right support for those working with both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence, so that when someone comes to them for help they can provide it,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“This funding, appropriated to Vote Health, provides a shot in the arm to address current funding issues.”

“This is alongside work the Government is doing with the sector on a cross-agency, long-term strategy to make sure sexual violence services are high quality, well-run and sustainable,” Mrs Bennett says.

This includes the development of a nation-wide prevention package, and a committed focus on improving sector development, funding and governance.

“It’s important the sector has financial certainty now, in order to have the security and time to best consider what the long-term approach will contain.”

While crime rates are dropping, the rate of sexual crimes is not.

That could reflect more reporting rather than more actual crimes.

Whichever it is giving victims the help they need and prevention measures are both high priorities.
We’re committed to supporting victims of sexual violence – http://bit.ly/1hRhfcg


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,282 other followers

%d bloggers like this: