Sunday soapbox


Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Remember that creating a successful marriage is like farming: you have to start over again every morning.  – H. Jackson Brown Jr

A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make, and you have to keep on making it.

I chose these quotes because my farmer and I have just reached another decade of marriage.

I’m not sure there’s a rational reason that a decade anniversary should have any more significance than any other but this one has been an occasion for reflection and counting blessings.

One of those reflections is that the relatively high number of people celebrating longer marriages in recent years might not continue.

People are living longer but marrying later, if at all.

If you marry in your 20s, as many of my contemporaries did, the chances of celebrating ruby, golden, and diamond (40th, 50th and 60th) anniversaries are a lot higher than if you marry when you’re older.

Of course a long marriage doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always a happy one and I don’t know anyone who is happily married who hasn’t had some rough patches. A dear friend who has been married more than 50 years once told me, in jest but with an element of resignation, she’d never contemplated divorce but murder had crossed her mind on a few occasions.

When writing services as a celebrant, I often think about what marriage means and what makes it works.

The answers to that are as diverse as the individuals who become couples and the partnership that ensues.

But marriage is a decision. Once you’ve made the decision you both have to do all you can to make it work, enjoying the highs and enduring the lows, and staying committed to each other and your marriage as the traditional vows say – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.


Let parents choose


Parliament has the opportunity to allow parents to choose parental leave that suits themi:

Kiwi parents could have more choice and flexibility with their parental leave arrangements under a new member’s bill drawn from the ballot today, National List MP based in Wellington Nicola Willis says.

“The Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Shared Leave) Amendment Bill will give the option to split parental leave between both spouses or carers, and allow them to be taken at the same time.

“This is a simple legislative change that will result in a more supportive environment for new mums and dads, and give them the freedom to choose what is best for their family.

“National wants to free-up parents to make the choices that suit them in their circumstances. The Government should not get in the way of what parents know is best for them and their new child.

“Whether you’re a new parent wanting to support Mum in the first few weeks of birth, or whether you simply want to spend time with your new baby together, this Bill enables those choices to be made.

“I would like to thank Amy Adams for her work previously on this Bill. I hope this pragmatic and modernising piece of legislation will receive unanimous support across the House.”

The state pays for parental leave but it’s not its business whether one or both parents take the leave and if it’s both, whether they do so at the same time.

Parents should be able to make decisions about what suits them and their families best and not have to fit in with what the government thinks is best for them.

You can find the Bill here.

Happily ever after?


In fairy tales people marry and live happily ever after.

That isn’t always the case in real life as Robert Fulghum relates in and then what happened?


For many years I served as an ordained Unitarian minister in churches in the Pacific Northwest. During that time, I officiated at more than a thousand weddings. Many changes have come to pass over the years. Nowadays anybody can marry anybody else, with only age as a legal issue. And anybody can officiate. My services are no longer needed. Sometimes I wonder what happened to those couples who vowed to love, honor, and obey – to love until death parted them. Yesterday I received a letter from one couple providing an answer to my wondering. It’s too long to share in full – I’ll need to summarize.

The letter was written on the occasion of a couple’s fortieth wedding anniversary – they wed on Thanksgiving Day, 1982. Celebrated in the home of the bride at a gathering of both large families.
A mixed marriage.
She was half Chinese and half German. His father was Jewish and his mother was Italian. But all were third-generation Americans with no strong religious affiliations. The couple met in graduate school, had lived together for a while, and, unknown to anyone else but them, were already expecting a child.
The families approved of the marriage – and it was a fine occasion.

And then what happened?

Twins were born – a boy and a girl. Time went on.
When the son and daughter left for college, the father had a career offer he could not refuse – but it meant he would move to Boston. The wife did not want to leave her work and move.
But more than that, after twenty years, the couple acknowledged that their marriage was no longer satisfying or workable. They agreed to live separate lives. They also agreed not to divorce unless one or the other wished to remarry. Without going into detail, the letter explained that both had relationships with other companions but didn’t find anyone they wanted to marry. . . 

Why have I stopped there?

I thought I had read a message on the website saying it was okay to use what he had written providing it was attributed.

I can no longer find that and as the journal entries are uploaded for a limited time I thought it was only fair to the author not to copy the whole piece but give a teaser and let you follow the link to find about what happened next.

Children need solid foundations


Lindsay Mitchell asks why our young lead the world in poor mental health?

A question like that has no single, simple answer.

She discusses contributing factors and concludes:

But most importantly, a reversal of this upward surge demands a wider appraisal and acknowledgement of societal changes that have lessened the likelihood that children will experience material and emotional security and stability throughout their formative years. If children were genuinely placed at the centre of the family, given time, given unconditional love, given space to explore but surety to return to, there may still be no guarantees. But the odds of that child developing good mental health will massively increase.

Poor mental health isn’t experienced only by children who lack material and emotional security and stability.

But  children with those solid foundations must have a better chance of better mental health and of growing into happy, healthy adults.


North Otago legends – Jock Webster


Jock Webster is another North Otago legend:

Scientist, farmer, director, trustee and QSM, Jock Webster is a busy man in our community. In today’s podcast we talk about the many benefits that irrigation has brought to North Otago and the humble sunflower that has helped create a successful business. Jock is a family man and has passed onto his children a legacy that continues to bless the community.

Jock’s son and nephew featured on Country Calendar a few weeks ago, you can watch the episode here.

Another immigration fail


The government is implementing another anti-immigration policy:

Plans to axe partner work visas at the end of the year could see migrants working under the table or stuck in abusive situations due to financial dependence

Migrants following their partners to New Zealand will find themselves without options for work, which advocates warn could lead to a rise in worker exploitation and even domestic violence.

From December, most partners of temporary migrant workers will no longer receive work rights through their partnership, and will need to qualify for the new accredited employer work visa or be granted a visitor visa.

Right now, partners can get hold of a visa for the same amount of time as their migrant worker partners, allowing them to work or study for up to three months.

But with immigration rebalances bringing in the accredited employer work visa, migrants will have to jump through the same hoops as their work visa-bearing partners in order to earn money.

It’s raised questions about how it will help with current worker shortages and social harms it could cause, with more people forced to subsist in single-income family set-ups or work under the table in situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation. . . 

National Party immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford said the new system would put people off moving to New Zealand, right at a time when many sectors are crying out for workers.

“There’s a worldwide war on talent,” she said. “Our visa settings need to be as welcoming as possible.”

She questioned whether New Zealand would be an attractive destination for people who know their partner will not be able to work, especially in this age of a sharply rising living costs.

“If they do come it’s going to be significant financial pressure on them,” she said.

And for those who do, she said they could well end up in under-the-table work, where workers are much more likely to be exploited.

“Everything this Government has done has put barriers in the way of good people getting here,” she said. “I don’t understand the rationale when we desperately need people.” . . .

Why would a government do this at any time let alone when the country is facing a major labour shortage?

It is anything but kind.

It not only shows lack of compassion for immigrants, it also shows the government has no sympathy for employers who are desperate for workers.

Chesterton quotes


Sensible change to surrogacy law


The Law Commission is recommending several changes to surrogacy laws:

Surrogacy law is out of date and requires reform, concludes Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission in its report, Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy, presented to Parliament today.

The report acknowledges a pressing need to change the law in order to meet the needs and reasonable expectations of New Zealanders.

Nichola Lambie, Principal Adviser at the Law Commission, said:

“Surrogacy has become an established method of family building for people who are unable to carry a child themselves. Their experience with the current framework shows improvements are needed.

“A key problem is that the law does not recognise surrogacy as a process that creates a parent-child relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate-born child. Intended parents must instead rely on adoption law which was developed over 65 years ago and did not contemplate the modern practice of surrogacy.

“The Law Commission is recommending a new framework for determining legal parenthood in surrogacy arrangements. Surrogacy is a legitimate form of family building that requires a specific legal framework to promote and protect the rights and interests of surrogate-born children, surrogates and intended parents.”

The report affirms the existing prohibition on commercial surrogacy in Aotearoa New Zealand and makes recommendations to improve surrogacy law and practice, including amendments to the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 and the Status of Children Act 1969.

Key recommendations include:

  • Introducing a simple administrative pathway for recognising intended parents as the legal parents of a surrogate-born child without the need for a court process, where the surrogacy arrangement was approved by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART) and the surrogate gives her consent.
  • Providing a separate court pathway for recognising intended parents as the legal parents of a surrogate-born child in situations when the administrative pathway does not apply.

Current law doesn’t recognise intended parents as parents, they have to adopt the child.

  • Giving effect to children’s rights to identity by establishing a national surrogacy birth register to preserve access to information by surrogate-born people about their genetic and gestational origins and whakapapa.
  • Clarifying the law to allow payments to surrogates for reasonable costs actually incurred in relation to a surrogacy arrangement, including compensation for loss of income.

Paying someone to be a surrogate would still be illegal but this would allow recompense for costs incurred.

I am not sure if it would allow payment for services, for example housework and child care.

At the moment intended parents could give up work and wait on the surrogate hand and foot but could not pay someone else to help with housework or child care.

The new law should allow payment for this sort of help.

  • Changes to the ECART approval process to improve its operation and to enable ECART to approve traditional surrogacy arrangements.
  • Commissioning Māori-led research to provide a better understanding of tikanga Māori and surrogacy and Māori perspectives on surrogacy.
  • Accommodating international surrogacy arrangements (where intended parents live in New Zealand and the surrogate lives overseas) within the court pathway of the new legal framework in order to promote the best interests of the child.

In developing its recommendations, the Commission has been informed by its consultation with the community of those with experience of surrogacy, members of the public, experts and interested organisations. It has examined recent developments in surrogacy law and regulation overseas and incorporates international best practice into its recommendations.

The Government will now consider the Commission’s recommendations and decide whether to reform the law.

These are recommendations for sensible changes that would make the surrogacy process simpler for the surrogate and the intended parents.

The existing law is out of date and needs to be brought in to the 21st century.

If they don’t have time to make a baby . . .


More evidence of the madness of modern life:

There’s a question that is frequently brushed over in fertility clinics and it may well surprise you: how frequently do you have sex? You might assume that by the time a couple seeks IVF they have long been trying to conceive in the bedroom. But although the sex question is on the forms during many fertility consultations, it has become the elephant in the room.

This week, experts warned that modern couples are often too distracted or time-poor to have the amount of sex necessary to conceive naturally. Many, they added, end up having IVF not because they are infertile, but because they are time-poor.

“People don’t make the time because they are too busy and too tired – they have a poor work-life balance and sex starts to seem like another chore,” says Charles Kingsland, of clinic group Care Fertility. “There is no doubt that some people are opting for IVF simply because sex isn’t something they have time to do.”

“Modern life has taken the joy out of it and there are too many other things like emails and work competing for our attention,” notes Professor Allan Pacey at the University of Sheffield.  . . 

If there are too many other things like emails and work competing for attention, what’s going to happen when they become parents?

If they don’t have time to make a baby how can they have time to raise a child?

Our Table


Peter H* Reynolds reads his story Our Table:


*The H is for Hamilton, named after the New Zealand city where his father was born.

Fights worth picking


David Morris says parents have to pick their battles and lists eight fights worth picking :


Parents have to choose their battles.

8 fights worth picking with your kids:

Parenting is hard.

We’re all figuring it out as we go.

One of the most difficult things to sort through is when to take a stand,

And when to let up.

There’s no magic formula for figuring this out,

But these are a few things I’ve found worth squaring off with your kids over.

The Reading Fight:

Make your kids read.

Of my four kids, one was a natural reader who always had a book in his hands.

For the others, it was a fight.

But it’s a fight worth picking,

Because reading is tied to everything from cognitive development to the ability to focus.

My wife teaches ACT prep and works with students on college admissions.

Of all the tips, tricks, and hacks she can provide, there’s one thing she says she can’t overcome ⏤

A kid who didn’t read.

Make your kids read now.

They’ll thank you later.

The Outside Fight:

Make your kids go outside.

The natural world teaches us things.

Valuable truths like:

– There’s a way things work that I must adapt to (because it won’t adapt to me)

– There are things I have no control over

– There are cycles and seasons to life

Plus, outside there’s sunshine, fresh air, and exercise waiting for them.

Most importantly, nature is full of things in short supply in our world ⏤

Discovery. Wonder. Peace. Joy.

Your kids are surrounded by artificial.

They need REAL.

Make them go outside to find it.

The Work Fight:

Make your kids work.

I’m saddened by how many parents don’t require their kids to lift a finger at home.

As my mom used to say:

“You don’t get the benefits of being in the family without taking your share of the responsibilities.”

There are age-appropriate ways kids can help around the house from 2 on.

They need the hard work, life skills, and ownership that comes from pitching in.

Plus, there are priceless life principles you can only learn with a mop in your hand.

Let sweat be their teacher.

The Meal Fight:

Make your kids eat as a family.

There are studies that outline all sorts of benefits from regular family mealtime.

These benefits range from a lower risk of depression to decreased drug use.

But that’s not why my family eats together.

It’s less about what family meals accomplish,

And more about what they represent.

Our lives are a blur of incessant activity.

Meals together are a physical pause to recover a truth so easily sacrificed at the altar of busyness ⏤

Nothing’s more important than family.

The Boredom Fight:

Make your kids live with boredom.

Kids need unscheduled time.

And, odd as it sounds, boredom is a skill.

I think much of the movement today toward mindfulness, stillness, and meditation,

Is a desire to develop the ability to be bored.

It’s hard as a parent to deal with the assault of boredom complaints.

But if you give in and fill up their time with external stimuli, you’ll raise an activity addict.

Resist the urge to give them a distraction.

There will always be much to do.

Make them learn how to be.

The “Me First” Fight:

Make your kids go last.

Not every time for everything.

But enough to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

If left on their own, most kids will elevate themselves above all others.

First in line.

The biggest piece.

Me. Me. Me.

There’s only one way to break this natural inclination.

You must periodically make your kids…

Go last in line.

Take the smallest piece.

Give up the remote.

Do someone else’s chores.

Get their least favorite choice.

They won’t like it, but they need it.

The Awkward Conversation Fight:

Make your kids have uncomfortable conversations with you.

As kids get older, the things you need to talk about with them get more difficult.

For both of you.

Sex, dating, body image, values…

Can all be difficult subjects to broach.

Your kids will roll their eyes and resist.

You will stumble and stutter.

But you must see through the awkwardness.

They want your perspective, lessons learned, and wisdom.

You want the pattern of open communication it establishes.

Wade into uncomfortable waters with them.

The Limitation Fight:

Make your kids live within limits.

Learning to live within limits is a valuable life skill.

In fact, many adult problems arise from an inability to accept them.

Problems like:

– Debt
– Overcommitment
– Exhaustion

Come from ignoring our limitations.

No one lives a life without limitations.

And you wouldn’t want to.

They mature us.

If you don’t introduce and enforce them,

You’re hurting your kids.

Screen time limits, dietary limits, activity limits, and schedule limits are all good.

Teach your kids to embrace them.

As a parent, you have to pick your battles.

These are some stands I’ve been glad we’ve taken.

They’re not easy, but they’re worth the fight.

As I often say to my kids ⏤

“I know you don’t think this is important,

But one day you’ll be so thankful you had parents who did.”

Kindness doesn’t extend to kin


The doors to New Zealand are finally creaking open.

Vaccinated Australians will be permitted to come here from April 13th and others from visa waiver countries will be welcomed after May 2nd.

We could quibble over why it’s going to take so long and also ask if many will want to come if we’re still at the Red Covid setting.

We might also wonder if this is an indication we won’t still be stuck in Red by then.

But there’s a bigger question – what about split migrant families who have been kept apart for two years and who aren’t in Australia or from visa waiver countries?

Could it be because the Immigration Ministry is so dysfunctional it couldn’t cope with the visas?

Whether or not that’s the case, it is indeed cruel that kindness doesn’t extend to the kin of migrants and these families will have to endure so many more months apart.

Parents are family too


A plea for kindness from children separated from their grandparents:

Logical consequences


Many moons ago a Positive Parenting course taught me about disciplining children by facing them with the consequences of any misdeeds.

The first option was natural consequences – if what would happen wasn’t too dangerous, expensive or pleasurable you did nothing and let it happen.

If natural consequences would be too dangerous, expensive or pleasurable, the best option was to use logical consequences – something directly related to the action.

Robert Fulghum, writes of a very good example of logical consequences in Trial by Ice:

On my way to my car pushing my full grocery cart, I’m stopped up short by flying ice.
What the hell?
The lady stopped beside me points and says, “It’s those boys over there – throwing ice at each other.”

Right. An ice fight on one of the hottest days of summer.

Three boys can be seen dodging in and out of the parked cars and trucks. A small one – an older skinny adolescent – and an in-between kid who seems most adept at chunking crushed ice. The ammunition supply dump is a cooler-chest filled with ice, open on the tailgate of the family pickup truck.

“Wait,” says the lady beside me, “Here come the parents.”
A substantial man and woman, tall and fit, driving two shopping carts crammed with groceries, cruise across the parking lot.

“Damnit, Cody, Jackie, Rusty, STOP IT NOW!” shouts the father.
The three brothers disappear, hiding behind the parked vehicles.
“Don’t hide from me,” shouts the mother, “We’ll go off and leave you.”

“No they won’t,” says my fellow spectator, “They’ll catch them and beat the living cookies out of them.”

“This could get ugly,” I’m thinking. . . 

It doesn’t get ugly, it gets funny and if you click on the link above you’ll find an amusing example of logical consequences.

Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Loshni Manikam


Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Keep the all safe


This column from Joe Stanley, UK Farmers Weekly opinion writer, was too important to include in the daily rural round-up.

He starts movingly describing the very short life and far too early death of his son, George and then writes:

A few days after we lost George, I saw through numb eyes a Health and Safety Executive notification that a child had been killed on-farm – the ninth in the past five years. In each of those cases, I can only imagine the devastation for the parents of losing a child into whom had been poured not just minutes, but years of love. And my heart goes out to them for their loss.

As an industry, please let us take this issue more seriously. We have an appalling safety record in general, and are the only industry where children are still dying in our workplaces every year.

There are many reasons given for this, but let us all remember the law: any access to the farm workplace for children under 16 must be supervised by an adult not engaged in work. Children under the age of 13 must not drive or ride in the cab of any agricultural vehicle. It is illegal and unsafe.

I”m not sure that these laws apply in New Zealand, but keeping children safe certainly does.

None of us ever think tragedy will befall us or our nearest and dearest, but the wheel of fate always stops somewhere. If you can help it, don’t let it be on you and yours. You don’t want this pain.

As farmers, most of us treat “the farm” as an entity in its own right – one that almost resents time spent away from it by the farmer.

Well, the farm will still be there tomorrow. So spend more time with your loved ones, with your family. Don’t lose sight of what’s truly important in life.

When my own end comes, I’m certain I would trade the memories of every day of work between this day and that, for those of the few brief minutes I spent with my darling little George.

Children growing up on farms have opportunities and experiences that town children don’t.

There’s a lot to be gained by seeing and, where appropriate, helping with  their parents’ work; learning how to care for the land and stock, and having hundreds, possibly thousands of hectares as a playground.

But while farms can provide a lot of fun and teach a lot of lessons, they can be dangerous workplaces, especially for children.

As another member of that group none of us choose to join – bereaved parents – I know only too well that you don’t want this pain and that everyone should do everything possible to keep farms safe for children, and for adults.

Was normal, now privilege


Anyone else sick of what should be normal being called privilege?

A student at a Whangārei primary school had to stand up in front of their classroom and say what they had done to acknowledge their white privilege. . . 

When did it become okay for teachers to be so political?

And when did what ought to be normal become privilege?

That’s normal as in being a child with parents who love each other and their children; living in a family where parents set boundaries and impose consequences when they’re breached; having a warm, clean home where there’s enough food.

That isn’t privilege. It’s what should be normal for all children and has nothing to do with ethnicity.

Calling it privilege, with or without the qualifier white, is a political construct.

It takes no account of effort and will.

It carries the message that where you are and what you have is all due to circumstances beyond control..

It is behaviour that would be punished if a child subjected another to it in the playground and it has no place in a classroom.

To make a child stand in front of a class and speak like that is bullying that should not be tolerated at school, let alone from a teacher who is in a position of power to a pupil who is not.

Still not kind enough


The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:

National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.

“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.

“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.

We need them and they need their families.

“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.

“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.

“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.

“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.

“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.

“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.” 

The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.

Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.

“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . . 

Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:

Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.

The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.

Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.

With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.

Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.

“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.

“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”

Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said. 

The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . . 

It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.

The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.

Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.

Why were we waiting?


At last we will be able to cross back and forwards across the Tasman without the need to quarantine from April 19th.

Why has it taken so long?

. . . On Tuesday Jacinda Ardern announced the Director-General of Health, Doctor Ashley Bloomfield, deemed the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from Australia to New Zealand is “low and that quarantine-free travel is safe to commence’’.

But on further inquiry from Newsroom, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed he’d been in regular discussions with Bloomfield for six months and the health boss’ “assessment that Australia’s a low-risk country has been consistent for some time’’.

The hold-up was Bloomfield’s advice that “the systems have not been in place to allow for safe green zone travel both ways between both countries’’.

The systems officials have been working on have been focused on airports and how travellers make the trip from one end to the other safely, keeping bubble travellers separate from other incoming flights that may have Covid-positive passengers, and the contact tracing and processes for opening, pausing and in some cases closing the bubble if there were an outbreak in either country.

Talk to airports and they’ll tell you they’ve had their systems ready to go since August last year when health officials gave the all-clear to Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.

The only advice the Ministry of Health has come back to airports with since then is extra cleaning when the bubble opens up, and other routine measures.

In the case of Wellington Airport, no managed isolation and quarantine flights land directly in the capital from overseas countries, so mitigating risks around mixing up trans-Tasman passengers with those potentially exposed overseas is and always has been non-existent.

And despite the political pressure ramping up from both National and ACT, the Government has been happy to continue with the go-slow citing a “cautious’’ approach in the name of public health and safety.

The reality is other than tourism operators and those whose businesses are directly impacted by tourist arrivals, most other New Zealanders accept it’s worth taking the time to get it right. . . 

In other words the government didn’t want to risk any political capital, preferring to pander to the fearful rather than promoting the low risk of opening a Trans-Tasman bubble.

It put polls before people – the ones separated from family and friends, the ones who couldn’t get to visit ill relatives before they died, the ones who couldn’t go to funerals, the ones who missed celebrations.

And it played on the pandemic paranoia for political gain with no heed for the financial and emotional stress tourism businesses, their owners and staff are under nor for the economic cost to the country of the needless delay.

Changing language to change world


Abigail Shrier writes that one of the first acts of the USA’s new House of Representatives could be to cancel mothers:

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic majority proposed to eliminate “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister” and all other language deemed insufficiently “gender-inclusive” from House rules. They would be ­replaced with terms like “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling” and so on.

“Mother” — among the most important concepts in human life — would be erased from the lexicon of the US House of Representatives. It’s important to recognize how radical this is. And no, it isn’t akin to updating federal law to replace “policeman” with “police officer,” a rational corrective sought by feminists for generations. . . 

Those changes were to reflect fact that jobs weren’t the preserve of one gender. That’s very different from trying to eliminate biological reality.

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.)

House Democrats don’t pretend to seek this change merely for the sake of “streamlining” congressional language. The explicit point is to advance “inclusion and diversity” and to “honor all gender identities.” Pelosi & Co. are desperate to accommodate an ­aggressive gender ideology that ­insists “man” and “woman” are fuzzy, subjective categories, rather than biological ones.

This desperation for acceptance and inclusion ironically doesn’t include and has no tolerance for those who maintain that there is an important difference between biological sex and what some people might choose for their gender.

Remember the trouble that J.K. Rowling got into when she tweeted ?

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud? 

She was labeled a TERF (a trans-exclusionary radical feminist); people burned her books and called for her publisher to blacklist her.

And if you think that’s mad, what about this? (back to Abigail Shrier):

Lest you think this a harmless alteration, consider the ways California’s Democrats have run wild with Newspeak. As Quillette reported last week, California’s insurance commissioner has ­issued a directive to reclassify double mastectomies of healthy breasts from “cosmetic” procedures to “reconstructive,” necessary to “correct or repair the abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects.”

You read that right: The “congenital defect” is a young woman’s healthy breasts, provided that young woman subjectively identifies as “nonbinary” or anything other than “woman.”

It matters what we call things in the public space: Just ask the ­female prisoners now housed with violent biological men in California if our lawmakers’ words matter. This lie — that a girl’s breasts constitute “developmental abnormalities” depending on her subjective state of mind — carries the result that female patients of all ages would suddenly become eligible for insurance coverage for double mastectomies. A small change in language grants doctors the green light to remove the normal, developing breasts of an 11-year old girl. Still just words?

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . .

If “mother” is now a useless concept under House rules, why shouldn’t it pose an equally offensive presence in federal law?

That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion.

The female body loses its significance in language and in law: no need for doctors to regard the healthy breasts of young girls as anything more than noxious lumps. The dystopian threat to individuality lies in this: Without mother and father, we all become atomized and fungible, losing our true individuality.

Those pressing for these changes do so precisely because they know there is no more effective means of upending society than by deleting the women and the natural bonds that make society possible. Congressional Democrats move us, by Orwellian fiat, one step closer to a sterile world with sterile words. We shapeless humans — fungible as pennies — are left to await further instruction.

The cancelling of gender specific terms for family members is an extension of the idea that those who have undergone puberty as males can compete equally and fairly in sports with those born female. Or as the proponents of this madness would say, that trans women are women.

In doing so they are blind to biological differences and the fact that whatever drugs and surgery do to change gender, nothing can make someone born a boy a natal woman, regardless of what he, she, or whatever other pronoun is chosen, identifies as and what words are used to denote that identity.

People who want a different gender from the sex assigned to them at birth face many hurdles and often are victims of discrimination. But accepting some people born boys can be trans women and some born girls can be trans men, that this isn’t always easy for them and they have rights, doesn’t mean we have to disregard biological facts, cancel family labels and undo progress that came from decades of activism to give women equality and safety.

Nor does it mean that those who speak out against this are transphobic.

As J.K. Rowling wrote in defending her tweet:

. . . It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.

But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating. . .

I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth. . . 

I have met only a couple of trans-women and enjoyed the company of both. I accept that some people aren’t comfortable with the sex assigned at their births, have the right to change their gender and not face discrimination because of that.

I don’t accept changing language to to deny biological reality.

People wanting social change use language to advance their agenda.

That can be sensible, for example changing gendered job titles to those that are gender neutral for occupations done by men and women. It can be good, for example changing offensive labels to ones that aren’t.

But it can also be political manipulation – changing the language to in a misguided attempt to change the world.

This linguistic trickery of cancelling family titles and denying biological reality is many radical and dangerous steps too far.

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