Am I my worker’s child’s keeper?

August 13, 2015

He turned up to work for us with a partner and five-year-old child, and little more than the clothes they stood up in.

He said they’d left their last job in a hurry because the boss made him drink too much.

I said to my farmer, call me sceptical but if you weren’t in imminent danger wouldn’t you have time to take a few essentials like bedding with you?

But we needed staff when it was difficult to find any so we gave him the job, found them basic household requirements and he started working.

Soon we got the letter requiring us to deduct money for fines from his pay and another requiring us to deduct child support.

Then we noticed the boy wasn’t going to school. We’d given them the usual information about the community including choice of schools when they arrived. We followed up but there was always some excuse as to why he wasn’t going.

In the end we approached the nearest school and were told that while most children enrolled at five, it wasn’t a legal requirement until they were six.

The boy turned six and still wasn’t going to school.

My farmer asked the father why and was told, “We took him but we didn’t like the principal because he  . . . ”

My farmer pointed out that the principal was a she.

The boy was enrolled but his attendance was at best erratic. The parents had a range of excuses, none of which were valid.

The boy looked well fed and happy, and there were no signs of abuse but the school got in touch with the Public Health nurse who began visiting the home.

Shortly afterwards the father gave his notice.

He got another job in the district. The grapevine told us of problems then the mother appeared in court for assaulting the father.

They left the district and we haven’t heard of them since.

But I still think about the boy who will be a teenager now and wonder could we have done any more for him?

Are people who knew the latest in the far too long list of children who have died in suspicious circumstances asking the same questions?

And what about people who know the children who aren’t yet in the list but in danger of joining it?

For everyone reported, how many more are victims of abuse and neglect and how many of these go on to neglect and abuse others?

If there were simple answers to the questions of why? and how? and what can be done?, it would be being done.

But difficult answers aren’t an excuse for not helping those in need now and addressing the causes to prevent more.

In light of which I am my worker’s child’s keeper but I don’t know what else I could have done to help him.

Quote of the day

August 13, 2015

Metro United Way's photo.

Students who are loved at home,  come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved. Nicholas A. Ferroni.

Home should be safe

August 6, 2015

Justice Minister Amy Adams has launched a review into New Zealand’s family violence legislation:

“Combating family violence is my top priority. The rate of family violence in New Zealand is horrific. While the Government has a comprehensive work programme underway, I think the law can do more to reduce the incidence and impact of family violence,” says Ms Adams.

“This review won’t shy away from taking a hard look at our laws and raising some challenging questions. The reality is if we want different outcomes we have to be prepared to do things differently.

The law underpins our response to family violence, so we need to make sure the broad set of laws that apply to family violence are effective and work well together.

The discussion document raises a number of starters for discussion, including:

  • establishing a set of standalone family violence offences
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court
  • ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders
  • doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts
  • considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders
  • more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

“When it was passed in 1995, the Domestic Violence Act was world-leading. It set out a clear response to family violence and distinguished it from other forms of crimes. While successive Governments have modified it over the years, it’s time for a rethink,” says Ms Adams.

“Laws are not the whole picture. We can’t legislate our way out of this. But our laws are a cornerstone element in how we respond to family violence.

“This Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. The home should be a safe place for all women, children, and men and we want to do our best to protect victims from re-victimisation. 

“This review is just one part of government work toward a coordinated, integrated and efficient response to family violence and sexual violence and is a central part of the cross-government package announced last year by Prime Minister John Key.”

The public consultation opens today at and runs until 18 September.

We have moved on from the time when family violence was regarded as “only a domestic” but it is still a serious problem.

Violence is not acceptable anywhere. It is worse at home which ought to be a safe place.
New Zealand National Party's photo.


August 5, 2015

An Auckland mother has admitted letting a neighbour sexually violate her nine-year-old daughter in exchange for cash. . .

How could any mother do that to her child?


NZ 3rd for material living standard

July 31, 2015

Trans Tasman points out that child poverty lobbies are wrong on living standards:

Lobby groups which bleat about child poverty in NZ took a knock this week when independent research showed NZ households have the third highest material living standard in the world for households with a teenager. The research also dealt a blow to those who contend there is growing inequality in NZ society. Using a new measure for wellbeing, Researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research found NZ ranks just behind the US and Canada, and ahead of Aust and all the Scandinavian countries.
Motu is a not-for-profit, non-partisan research institute and received funding for this work from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of NZ. Dr Arthur Grimes, one of NZ’s most respected economists, says “our new measure focuses on actual consumption of households, which is a better measure of living standards than income. What we found is that we have very high material wellbeing levels. I think this should call into question the widespread negative impression of living standards in NZ compared with other developed countries.” Grimes and Motu researcher Sean Hyland worked from a dataset of household possessions for almost 800,000 households over 40 countries, including all OECD countries.
“Our results show NZ is still a great place to bring up children, at least in material terms. Not only do we have wonderful natural amenities, but contrary to what GDP statistics tell us, most kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers” The study also looked at the degree of inequality in household material wellbeing, which fell in most countries, including NZ, over the period 2000-2012. In 2012, NZ ranked twentieth of 40 countries in terms of inequality, with levels similar to those in the US, Canada and the UK.
Grimes points out most public policy concern is with the living standards of ordinary people, especially those closer to the bottom of the wealth distribution curve, whose living standards are well captured in the data. “If we look across the Tasman, Australia’s households are not quite as wealthy as their NZ counterparts but inequality in Aust. is lower than that in NZ. Overall, these figures suggest we may need to reassess how we look at this country’s economic performance.”

This doesn’t mean everyone has enough nor that we can ignore the needs of those who don’t.

But it does contradict the people who keep trying to tell us that inequality is growing and that up to one in four children are living in poverty.

Quote of the day

July 23, 2015

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

It isn’t the sleepless nights, or the endless fights. It isn’t the constant worrying about every last little thing, or the constant pestering about every last little thing. It isn’t the impact on your work life, your love life, or your social life. It isn’t the lack of money, the lack of time, or even the lack of anything approaching a life of your own.

It feels like it’s all of those things, but it it’s none of them.

In the end, the hardest thing about being a parent is truly understanding that everything comes with a number. You get a certain number of bedtime stories, and a certain number of bedtime kisses. Your get a certain number of roads they’ll cross holding your hand, and a certain number of sports matches on a Saturday morning. You get a certain number of bike rides, and a certain number of bad jokes with no real punchline. Most of all… you get a certain number of hours.

One day you’ll go to the bucket, and it will be empty.

So–and I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else–get as much as you can, of all that you can, for as long as you possibly can. It’s the only score you’ll get that will ever truly mean anything, and it’s also the hardest one to keep track of.Nigel Latta

Tell tale tit

July 22, 2015

Tell tale tit/your tongue will be slit/ and all the dogs in the town/ will have a little bit.

This schoolyard chant has come to mind often as I watch the mainstream media report breathlessly on something someone has posted on the internet.

The latest is Max Key’s video of his family holiday.

If it wasn’t that his father is the Prime Minister would anyone but his friends know about this? Even when he is the PM’s son, some other than his friends might want to know but does anyone but them need to know?

It’s been viewed more than 116,000 times. But how many times would it have been viewed had it not been broadcast by the MSM?

Other political leaders have, rightly, said that politician’s families should be off-limits.

I only knew about it because I read a post on Facebook referring to Barry Soper’s soapbox saying the PM’s son’s lifestyle was a liability to him.

. . . Key’s always been seen as a regular bloke, and regardless of his super wealth, he is. But perhaps he should have a word to his son Max who’s been with the family at their Hawaiian hideaway over the past couple of weeks, along with his model girlfriend who’s soon to become a Miss Auckland contestant, we’re told. . .

Now that isn’t the privilege of the vast majority 20 year old’s who’re struggling to make ends meet in this country.

It’s not an image that should be flaunted when the number of homeless here is growing and when the economy’s beginning to waiver, and it’s not the image that Key’s so carefully cultivated.

To those who like and admire him the PM comes across as who he is, someone who has the rare ability to engage with a wide spectrum of people and who hides neither his humble background nor the wealth he earned through hard work and careful investment.

This story won’t influence them. It might provide some fuel for those who don’t like him or his politics but probably won’t even register with the vast majority.

If there was any flaunting, it wasn’t the original posting of the video, it was the reporting of it which brought it wider attention.

That brings me back to the schoolyard chant.

Social media is part of life now and some matters broadcast on it do have legitimate news value.

However, some which get reported on by the MSM forget the difference between what some of the pubic might be interested in and what’s in the public interest, and they’re just telling tales.

Stories about politicians families should, with very rare exceptions, be in the latter category.


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