Regions lose with central control

August 2, 2019

The government is centralising vocational education, merging 16 technology institutes and polytechnics into one:

Former Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce warns of the risks in this move:

. .  .Leaving aside the issue of transferring the control of hundreds and hundreds of millions of assets out of regional New Zealand to Wellington, there are huge risks in the proposal. Across the Tasman, New South Wales has just done something similar, merging its 16-odd TAFEs (polytechs) into one NSW-wide TAFE, and it is a cautionary tale. The merged entity lost $30 million in its first year, blowing out to $240m in its second. It’s now in the process of further reform.

Yes, many New Zealand polytechnics are currently struggling, but that’s not unique to this country. When employment is high, vocationally-minded people tend to get into work ahead of going to polytech, and roll numbers drop. It’s been made worse here by the sudden squeeze on international enrolments caused by government immigration policy which is contributing to a perfect storm of red ink.

Interestingly however, well-run polytechnics like SIT in Southland, Otago, and the Eastern Institute of Technology in the North Island, have continued to perform and make surpluses. A few board overhauls and the odd regional merger, plus a bit more tuition funding, would do wonders for the others and retain their local focus – and be much less risky.

The government’s prescription is radical surgery when much less drastic medicine could solve the problems at a much lower cost in both money and jobs:

The Government’s polytechnic and industry announcement today will cost thousands of jobs and may be the death knell for some polytechnics, National’s spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.

“Moving apprentices back to polytechnics and creating one mega polytechnic will cost at least 1300 jobs in industry and probably as much again in polytechnics.

“Employers are telling us they will cease to employ apprentices next year if apprentices go back to polytechnics. This is a big step backwards especially when our construction sector is crying out for apprentices.

“The Government has brutally dismissed the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training. Industry understands the needs of industry best and who will be the best fit for them, but Mr Hipkins is blatantly ignoring them.

“Now the Minister is turning his axe to polytechnics. Under these reforms well performing polytechnics from the Southern Institute of Technology to Otago Polytechnic will lose the very essence of their successful and innovative local decision making.

“The reforms dissolve polytechnics into hollow and meaningless ‘legacy’ polytechnics. This ideology will destroy tradition, decimate organisational knowledge and the final indignity will be the mega polytechnic spending community gifted cash and assets.

“This is devastating for polytechnics and their staff and students.

“Every aspect of the vocational education sector is under attack. Apprentices are being sent back to polytechnics, polytechnics are being amalgamated into legacy campuses, jobs are being lost, cash and community assets will be ring-fenced and regional autonomy is being stripped away.

“These reforms will be disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships. Mr Hipkins is pushing ahead with ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand.

“National will empower the regions to make decisions around what they teach, where they teach and how they teach. We will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return apprentices to industry.

“National supports apprentices and regional polytechnics and we will fight for their voice and autonomy in these ideological educational reforms.”

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt said the city will fight to save The Southern Institute of Technology:

Invercargill leaders have vowed to fight a Government decision to centralise the Southern Institute of Technology [SIT] with 15 other polytechnics and training institutes nationwide.

Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was in “absolute disbelief they could do such a terrible thing to our city” and said legal action would be taken against the decision.

“They have really ripped the heart out of Invercargill with this announcement.”

The proposal also threatens the future of Telford Farm Training Institute:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said the announcement was incredibly disappointing and raised uncertainty for Telford’s future.

“Today’s announcement of the Government’s reform of vocational education through the centralisation of polytechs is another blow to rural and regional New Zealand. 

“It is the people in regions who know the needs of their people best, not a long list of public servants in Wellington.”

Community assets would be taken away, decision-making powers would be lost and as a result, Telford would be disadvantaged, he said.

“Telford’s long-term proposal was turned down because of this reform which will now cause further damage to Clutha-Southland and its workforce.”

“This creates further uncertainty for staff and students at Telford who have already been through enough.” . . 

Successful organisations like SIT and Otago Polytech could have been used as a model for other institutions that were floundering.

Instead the successful are being sacrificed because of others’ failures and the regions lose autonomy to central control.


Rural round-up

May 17, 2018

Climate ambassadors the next step in dairy’s plan :

Fifteen dairy farmers have been chosen to profile the climate change cause as New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassadors.

This is the next step of the dairy sector’s plan to create a culture of climate conscious agribusiness amongst farmers and the broader dairy industry, says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.

“These fifteen men and women all represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. “They run their farms profitably and sustainably and are serious about reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Savvy couple win at Dairy Industry awards – Stephen Bell:

Northland couple Dan and Gina Duncan are technologically savvy and care about people, the environment and cows and while doing very well at dairy farming.

Their efforts were rewarded when on Saturday night they were named the Share Farmers of the Year.

Gerard Boerjan from Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa is Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland is Dairy Trainee of the Year. 

The judges said the Duncans are passionate, professional and committed. . .

Dairy trainee of the year grateful for employers’ support – Nicole Sharp:

In three years, 24-year-old Simone Smail, of Invercargill, has come a long way in the dairy industry.

Being presented the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year award at Stadium Southland on Saturday night, Miss Smail was overcome.

She thanked her family for their support, her bosses Steve and Tracy Henderson for giving her a start in the industry and everybody else she had met along the way. . .

Lamb prices expected to stay high – Simon Hartley:

Key lamb export markets are paying  14%  more for product so far this season, with record highs  for this time of year,  ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

He said AgriHQ  reported lamb supply remained tight  and competition among processors was still keen given the  relatively low levels of slaughter.

“It follows that underlying demand is also solid …  all key export markets are paying 14% or more so far this season compared to last season.”  . .

Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station – Kate Guthrie:

Every year David Bielski, manager of Craigmore Station in South Canterbury, plans to spend $50,000 of the station’s budget on fencing, planting trees and labour to increase biodiversity on the property.

An impressive 51 hectares of land already consists of native plant species and is under various QE II covenants and game keeper John Brownley has been controlling a full range of pests on the station for over 10 years.

“Our pest tally for last year was 120 feral cats, 30 ferrets, 13 stoats, 214 hedgehogs, 19 (recorded) rats, 260 rabbits, 155 possums, 6 wallabies and 57 hares,” David confirms. “Numbers go up and down. We try to minimise pests, but we never get on top of them.”. . .

Is Labour anti-farming? – Jamie Mackay:

Environment Minister David Parker has an interesting background in agriculture.

He oversaw the due diligence on both the science and the intellectual property for the A2 Corporation and was one of its first two employees. It’s now a $9 billion dollar company.

Unfortunately, for him, he sold his start-up shares to avoid a conflict of interest when he became a politician.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an interview I did with him on my radio show last week: . . .

Farmer suicide research not a priority for govt:

A release of official documents confirms the Ardern-Peters Government does not consider further research into farmer suicide to be a high priority, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Documents relating to a funding application for Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) show how officials successfully persuaded the Minister of Health David Clark and the Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor that further investment into farm related suicide research is not a priority at this stage,” Dr Reti says.

“This astounding admission continues the Government’s dismissive attitude towards rural mental health – further compounded by the refusal to commit to a school of rural health. . .

Future guardians get their hands dirty planting on Mauao – Scott Yeoman:

A busy winter season of planting has begun on Mauao in Mount Maunganui, with Ngāi Te Rangi’s future guardians getting their hands dirty and leading the way.

About 500 native plants were dug into a bank at the base of Mauao yesterday by 20 children under 5 and a team of adult helpers.

Ngāi Te Rangi’s Kia Maia Ellis said the Mauao Trust had a big kaupapa (policy) around restoring the korowai (cloak) at Mauao. . .

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Rural round-up

April 12, 2018

Van Leeuwen owner awaits M.bovis compo, says MPI like a ‘slow machine’ –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Aad Van Leeuwen is still waiting for compensation from the Ministry for Primary Industries more than nine months after he reported the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in his South Canterbury herds.

“There was an advance made a couple of months ago covering barely 20 percent of all the stock but the remaining more than 80 percent has not arrived yet and there are continuous questions coming (from MPI) that have all been answered,” the owner of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group told BusinessDesk. Compensation for the stock alone is around $3 million and doesn’t include anything else such as milk loss, he said. . . 

Farmer research highlights hill country risks and opportunities :

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have shared their stories on their hill country development experiences with research company UMR through an anonymous survey, as part of a research project commissioned by Environment Canterbury, and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury).

The in-depth interviews were undertaken to understand current hill country development practices, as Environment Canterbury considers approaches to help farmers determine whether and how to develop their hill country pastures.

Some sheep and beef farmers are improving hill country productivity by planting older hill country pastures with higher producing pasture species. This commonly involves one or more years in winter feed, and creates an increased risk of sediment losses during this period. . .

Gibbs family meet environmental challenges of coastal property – Esther Taunton:

Farming on the South Taranaki coast has its environmental challenges but the Gibbs family tackle them head on.

The regional winners of the 2018 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs of the Gibbs G Trust milk 435 cows on a 122-hectare farm five kilometres south of Manaia.

Steep cliffs form the southern boundary of the property, which is exposed to wind and “devastating” salt spray. . .

Government should commit to rural communities:

National is urging the Government to support the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) with ongoing funding, National Party associate spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.

“National recognises that rural communities in New Zealand have different needs and face special challenges, especially when it comes to accessing health services,” Dr Reti says.

“We support the RHAANZ’s request for ongoing operating funding outside their existing contracts to ensure that rural communities have access to the services that they need. . . 

NZ ahead of UK sheep genetics – Colin Ley:

New Zealand’s sheep genetics are way ahead of those in Britain, Scotland-based NZ agribusiness consultant Tim Byrne says.

As a senior consultant with Dunedin’s AbacusBio Byrne opened the company’s first European office in June last year to more effectively service British and European Union clients while also seeking to access new areas of agri-tech development in Europe.

While fully convinced that NZ sheep farmers hold a clear genetics advantage over their British counterparts he’s not so sure Kiwi producers are striking a sufficiently strong profile on environmental management issues. . . 

What does added value mean?:

Outsiders commentating on the New Zealand meat industry often confidently pronounce the sector needs to ‘add value’ to the products, but what exactly is added-value, who are you adding value for and who is getting the value? It depends who you talk to.

Meat is a nutritious, and most would say essential, base ingredient in a modern healthy diet – to be eaten in moderation – for end-users around the world.

To get maximum prices, the base material – the meat – needs to be consistently tender, juicy, sized and available all year round. Meeting those demands – producing healthy animals on pasture to precise specification – adds value for a red meat farmer, who earns more money for a premium product.

The consumer might say added-value is something that helps daily life, so increasing the speed of preparation, recipe choice, and portion control might all feature in the added-value mix they will pay more for. . . 


Dr Shane Reti’s maiden speech

November 1, 2014

National’s Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti delivered his maiden speech this week:

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka, ka tangi hoki ahau, tihei mauriora

Te whare e tu nei

Te marae e takoto nei, tena korua

To tatou mate. Haere e nga mate. Haere ki te kainga tuturu o to tatou matua I te rangi.

Haere, haere, haere.

Ko te kaupapa mo tenei ra, tena koe.

Ko te wairua o tenei whare, tena koe.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora mai tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, may I first acknowledge you with greetings from the North, and from my electorate team led by Murray Broadbelt, and mentors Shirley Faber, Stephanie MacMillan, and my campaign and executive teams. We congratulate you in your role as Speaker.

To my esteemed colleagues, I greet you with the proverb “He waka eke noa”. Together we are in this one canoe, without exception.

To gathered guests and family, I acknowledge and thank you for the service you do me today. That I may make you proud, that we may make you proud. Nga mihi ki a koutou.

Mr Speaker, I stand today as a humble servant from humble beginnings.

The Whangarei electorate has never had a Maori MP. From Murray Smith, to John Elliot, to John Banks, to Phil Heatley, the baton has been passed and now rests in my care and protection.

To this end, and on behalf of the electorate, I would like to thank Hon Phil Heatley for many years of dedication not just to this electorate, but to other ministerial portfolios also.

Mr Speaker, it has been commented to me that from the North to this House, one Shane leaves and another Shane arrives.

This is of course reference to Shane Jones, my whanaunga and fine member of New Zealand First … ah … Labour.

We do have some similarities.

It is true, that Shane was a New Zealand Harkness fellow to Harvard just as I was several years later. I believe his academic appointment was to Kennedy School of Government, and mine was to Harvard Medical School. I will talk more on this later.

I speak today Mr Speaker as the last of the newbies in this National Government. The beginner, the learner, the minnow.

And here in this moment, right now, I claim no honorifics, no title, just Shane, a Maori boy from Northland, and Mr Speaker, when my time and season concludes, from the dust I come and to the dust I will return.

My background is simple.

I was born into a state house, the eldest of five children in a working class Maori family.

My parents believed that further education and hard work was the way to success.

And yet, what further education meant wasn’t exactly clear to them, because they had never experienced it themselves.

Mum left in the fifth form and went to work as a clerk at State Advances. Her people landed in Horeke in the Hokianga in the early 1800s, and are now resting in the cemetery opposite Rawene hospital.

Dad left in the fourth form to return to the family farm in Kawhia. Dad is from a family of 14 brothers and sisters to the same mother and same father. Grandma Irina Whawhakia Paki, descendant of Puoaka Paki, Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, and Granddad Tom Reti, son of Hemi and Tete Paoro, from Waikare in the Bay of Islands, Ngati Wai.

Times were tough for my grandparents.

Every time Grandma was in labour, she would hop on the horse (no saddle – bare back), and ride down the hill, across the beach, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly who was the midwife. A journey of significant time and distance, with all 14 children.

But if the tide was in, Mr Speaker, it was down the hill, swim the horse, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly.

As soon as he got in from the farm, Granddad Tom would follow, on the horse, down the hill, across the beach, and up the valley, and then, when he got close to Aunty Polly’s house, Aunty Polly would come out and say, “Tom, this is women’s work, go home.”

Mr Speaker, like many in the House today, my grandparents created endeavour through endurement, and success through sacrifice. This is also the story that I will tell.

It is actually not so much about me, Mr Speaker, I am but the instrument in this mortal existence, but it is a story that at its conclusion, talks to hard work, education, and the unbridled privilege of serving your fellow man.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, it is my belief that there are several sentinel events in a lifetime. Some have a few, some have many. Sentinel events are events that shape our lives, and but for a different path, a different outcome ensues.

Two diametric sentinel events happened in my teenage years and shaped my life. The first was institutional racism.

In my student years, I would usually study during the day, and at night, commercial clean with dad, vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, and dusting blinds.

One year, I asked the administrator if I could sit, not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply, “No Shane, you’re a Maori boy, you’ll do five.”

My internal response was a call to arms “right, I will show you”, and my external response was to win the English prize that year.

No, not for me six subjects, I was still only allowed to sit five, but many years later, when I was promoted to Assistant Professor at Harvard, well, I think I’d made my point.

Mr Speaker I won, but many Maori don’t.

And Mr Speaker, the educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bounded by the preconceptions of others.

Their dreams too must be allowed to soar to the heavens,

on shards of resolve,

to the heights resounding,

“e tangi e, e tangi e, e tangi e”.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I was blessed with a second sentinel event in my teens.

In my sixth form year, Hamilton Rotary Club, district 993, broadcast across the Hamilton high schools that they will support one student to America the following year. Many apply, and yet for some reason, they chose me.

You have to imagine Mr Speaker, that in those times, working class Maori were not the normal Rotary mix. Yet, they chose me.

No one in my family had ever had a passport, few had been on a plane, and none had been overseas. And yet they chose me.

Mr Speaker, I went to Idaho in the intermountain west of America. My five host families were a retail manager, two multimillionaires, and two bankers. Can you imagine the contrast? From working class Maori, to a host father who flew me in his private plane on the weekends to his condo in Sun Valley.

These people were well educated, they worked hard, and success had come their way. There it was right there – education and hard work.  My parents had already planted the seed of belief and now I saw it in action, I was living it, I got it, and I went on to apply it.

Mr Speaker, this is a story of opportunities. Windows of opportunities that in a lifetime may open for just the briefest of moments, and then close again, sometimes for ever.

Our task Mr Speaker is to create opportunities for those that follow, that as we pass the baton to them, we have created a world better than how we found it. A footprint that the next tide will gently wash over, and shape to its new resolve.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I have had three careers.

My first career is as a doctor serving the people of Whangarei for 20 years.

During this time, in my clinical hands, I was truly privileged to care for many good people, and I thank them for enriching my life.

At the same time, I was appointed to Northland DHB for three consecutive terms, and I would like to acknowledge DHB chair Lynette Stewart, who is here today, and whose wisdom and counsel has always been sound.

National literary awards also followed for research published in the national and international scientific community.

I guess somewhere in there, I also found time to qualify to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, receive a QSM, and have three children under three.

To our children, Justin, Melissa, and Angela, thank you for permissioning me to undertake this body of work, and to Christine, whose warm embracing support of family also brings me to this point.

But Mr Speaker, what I most learnt from this, my first career, was to be a good listener. When you partner with people and guide them through the peaks and troughs of their life you get to be a good listener.

And you know Mr Speaker, there is a parallel with serving constituents, and it is this:

What people want Mr Speaker is:

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker my second career is in America where I worked for seven years until recently.

I was selected as New Zealand Harkness Fellow to Harvard. My academic appointment was to Harvard Medical School. My operational appointment was to Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston.

It is in the Harvard environment, Sir, that I cut my international credentials and developed foreign affairs and trade expertise.

In the scientific space of Harvard I found a fertile environment where any innovation, any new thinking that I wanted to dream, I could actually bring to life.

As an informatician, I worked with data, ciphers, and encryption, and became a Beacheads Middle East advisor, out of the Dubai consulate.

For sharing their knowledge so generously, I wish to give particular thanks to my operational team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. You took up the Kiwiness, took up the Maori, and in return opened up new personal experiences to me such as the Jewish Seder.

I carry the best of you all with me, and so with deep gratitude I acknowledge Harvard professors: Professor Tom DelBanco, Professor Warner Slack, Associate Professor Charles Safran, Associate Professor Tony Kaldany, and Assistant Professor Henry Feldman.

Mr Speaker, it was always my intention to bring the best of the Harvard environment home to New Zealand.

I was always on loan from my people, I was always coming home, and I bring these learnings with me into the science, technology, and R&D space, and I proudly attest: “It is cool to be a geek.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, my third career is here and now.

As the MP for Whangarei, I will advocate strongly for the needs of the electorate, and I thank and honour the mandate they have given me and a National Government.

Our needs are best met by economic development, which includes attention to transport, local government reform, and Treaty settlements.

Economic development which creates sustainable disposable income, also creates options, and these options, I believe, will improve the metrics by which we define a good life.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I feel responsibilities to my electorate in Whangarei, to my regional neighbours in Northland, and to every single citizen of this nation.

At a national level then, I embrace working with my colleagues here in the House, as we advance a New Zealand in prosperity, equity, and freedom.

Mr Speaker, I would like to extend one dimension of freedom to a discussion on data ownership, a conversation that is heard in the international community, and one that we may have here also.

In the complex balance between freedom of expression and privacy, who owns the data Mr Speaker?

What data? Well, as we seek to share medical records online through electronic tools such as personal health records, who owns the data? The patient, the doctor, the funder?

When a loved one, say a child, chronicles their life story on Facebook, and that child unexpectedly and tragically passes away, who owns that precious story? Without passwords the parents will struggle to reclaim the digital expression of that child. Who owns the data?

Mr Speaker, this discussion may be better framed not around ownership, but stewardship, and Mr Speaker, New Zealand is already strong in this domain. We are already stewards, of the land through DOC, stewards of our costal treasures through kaitiaki stewardship, and stewards of the next generation through love. It is but a small step to be stewards of our data also.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, ka mutu.

I have been blessed to be mentored and guided by many strong people in my life.

To those at governance tables, trade delegations, embassies and consulates, I watched, I learnt, and I am an amalgam of the best of what you all brought to the table and shared, and for these gifts I thank you.

To Yvonne, who guides and lights the way forward. I thank you.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to acknowledge my parents, Ray and Robyn, who are here today and thank them.

My parents, who, when faced with a child with endless energy, still decided to keep me alive.

And so Mr Speaker:

May your tenure sir be blessed.

May this House be great.

And may we be one people.

Thank you.

 


Class of 2014

September 23, 2014

Prime Minister-elect John Key, his deputy Bill English and the new national MPs:

Bill English and I were proud to welcome National’s 15 new MPs to Parliament this morning.

 


Shane Reti for Whangarei

March 7, 2014

Dr Shane Reti has won the National Party selection for Whangarei.

He has a very impressive background:

He was head-hunted by the eminent Harvard Medical School, but Whangarei doctor Shane Reti says his feet remain firmly grounded in Northland and he’s returning home hoping to represent the district in Parliament.

After six years living in Boston, but returning every three months or so, Dr Reti is on his way home to seek the National Party nomination to replace Phil Heatley as MP in the 2014 general election.

Dr Reti said he was offered incentives by Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School to stay and carry on his important medical work, but the calling to come home for good was too strong. . .

He worked in general practice in Whangarei for 17 years, and was a member of the Northland District Health Board for seven years, before being awarded a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, in 2007.

He has examined community health issues such as how to improve appointment rates at public hospitals, and once offered to fund a $70,000 survey on fluoride, out of his own pocket.

In 2004 he completed the first comprehensive study of Northland’s heath status which revealed a deteriorating state of health, with diabetes a major concern after spending the previous two years pounding the pavements and knocking on doors interviewing almost 300 Northlanders and analysing their information to produce the ground-breaking study.

He returns home every three months or so to treat patients at his Rust Ave practice. . .

“I know Whangarei and Northland as well as anybody and despite being offered a number of incentives to stay (at Harvard) I want to come back and try to make a difference for Whangarei in Parliament,” he said.

Dr Reti said he was to the right of centre in his political leanings, believing in strong fiscal responsibility. “But I also believe in a social safety net, so that makes me egalitarian. I also believe in reward for hard work, which makes me centre right,” he said.

 

 


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