Teachers who inspire

February 10, 2014

A new website aimed at acknowledging the life-long impact that teachers have on their students’ lives has been launched today by the Education Minister,  Hekia Parata.

“‘Inspired by U’ is a website designed to recognise and celebrate teachers and educators who have made a difference to their student’s lives,” Ms Parata says.

The website invites people to go online and write a virtual postcard to the teacher that inspired them most.  

Around 200 prominent New Zealanders, including Prime Minister John Key, have taken part and written to a former teacher telling them why they inspired them.

“I am very fortunate that I can remember a range of teachers who inspired me throughout all my years of education”, says Ms Parata.

“I’d like that to be the experience of every young New Zealander, and that’s why we have been investing in a programme of initiatives to raise the quality of teaching and leadership, and keep, grow, and attract the best in to the profession”.

“I think everyone can remember at least one teacher who had a real impact on their time at school and the ‘Inspired by U’ initiative is a great way of recognising those teachers,” says Ms Parata.

“Celebrating excellence in education is an important part of the Government’s commitment to raising the status of the teaching profession, and publicly acknowledging the powerful contribution the profession makes to lifting overall student achievement.

“Hosting the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March together with Festivals of Education in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, introducing the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, establishing the new professional body EDUCANZ, and the $359million investment into better career pathways, are all part of acknowledging the profession, raising its status, and recognising the critical contribution that quality education achievement makes to the future prosperity of New Zealand,” says Ms Parata. . .

The website is here and members of the public are invited to send a post card to teachers who inspired them.

The Prime Minister’s message is to Mr Hughes of Burnside High School.

I was inspired by you because you had a love, passion and great knowledge of economics. You added to my desire to make a difference to New Zealand. Kind Regards.

Hekia Parata acknowledges Mrs Fitzpatrick of Ngata Memorial College,

I was inspired by you because you encouraged my love of reading, broadened my taste in literature, bolstered my confidence when other kids thought it was pretty nerdy and you were big on “big words” (though not bureaucratic ones!!).

Nga mihi – Thanks!

Nikki Kaye pays tribute to Mrs Eadie of Corran School:

I was inspired by you because you are such a positive person. At school I really admired you and learned from your ability to be so positive and strong no matter how level the discussions were. I will be eternally grateful for the moment where you believed in me and told me to take the harder but better path when I could have gone the wrong way. Your belief in me gave me the confidence at a really important time on my life. I think life would be very different if that moment of belief had not of happened. I often reflect on that particularly when young people come to me for advice and help. Thank you.

Sir Peter Leitch thanks Mrs Main  of Wellington Tech:

Thanks for teaching outside the square – you gave me HOPE! It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, to go out into the workforce and have a go. Because of that I found the will to fight against the odds and created the Mad Butcher- so thank you for having faith in me.

Sir Michael Hill thanks Mr Green of  Whangarei Intermediate:

Whangarei Intermediate School was a very sporty school and you were the music teacher and played the violin very nicely. Even if you thought of playing the violin there – you were a sissy but I loved the sound of it and I used to sit outside your room while you played and decided to take it up. As a result, music has been with me all my life.

Julian Wilcox thanks Henare Kingi:

Henare Kingi is an elder statesman of the Ngāpuhi tribe, a founding broadcaster of New Zealand’s first Māori Radio station, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, and a recognised scholar of Te Reo Māori.

When I graduated from University, Henare stood to congratulate me, however, he chose to do so thus:

“E taku tamaiti, ahakoa he aha rawa tāu e whai ai i tēnei ao, kia mahara ake koe ki ēnei kupu ā tō matua: Whakaiti, whakaiti, whakaiti.”

“My child, no matter what you choose to do in this world, remember these words of your elder: through humility comes humanity.”

Whilst I have struggled at times to embody this lofty notion in an industry that encourages one to rise above one’s peers, it is a statement I have tried to cleave to, modeled by a man who continues to inspire me in all that I do.

Anna thanks Ms McKinnon of Iona College:

You created a great environment for learning. We all knew what was expected of us and what would happen if we fell short of your standards. As we became older and moved from social studies and into the individual classes of history and classics you fostered debate between young women and allowed us to voice our opinions and helped show us the road to self-education. Because of you I have a LOVE of history, so much it even became one of my University majors. Thank you.

Kate acknowledges Mr Whiteside of Taradale High:

Six weeks to go and I was on course to fail School Certificate mathematics. I had given up on myself. For some reason my homeroom/maths teacher (you) decided to save me. For six weeks you voluntarily tutored me after school – slowly and painstakingly teaching me, but most importantly, restoring my self-belief. Your patience and understated encouragement enabled me to pass – only two marks off an A grade! Thanks Mr Whiteside your a truly inspiring teacher.

Dallas thanks Mrs Hanna of Papatoetoe High:

You were my English teacher at Papatoetoe High School in 1968 and 1969. What made the difference? You cared! You cared about me not only as a learner but as a vulnerable teenage girl judged by most teachers at the school by the behaviour of my older brother. You took time to know me not only as a learner but as a person in my own world. The result – I LEARNED well in your class.

Esther thanks Sister Lidwina of St Joseph’s Catholic School, Morrinsville:

You were  my first teacher in New Zealand when I was nine years old.  I was incredibly lucky that you were able to speak some of my language but what made you really special was the time that you took to get to know my family.  You really helped us all to feel welcome and confident in our strange new country.

Clayton thanks Mrs Hedger of Opononi Area  School:

When I think of influential teachers in my life, you were one of them. You gave me a chance when I was naughty and you were always there. Thanks so much – I will always remember you.

There is more information about the Festivals of Education here and about Prime Minister’s Awards  here.


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” – Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. – Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics – that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” – Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  –  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


Take away the spades

October 1, 2011

I have never voted Labour and pigs will be flying in a frozen hell before I ever contemplate doing so.

But I have friends and family who do and our political views are merely differences of opinion that never intrude on our relationships.

For their sakes I’m reminding the Labour Party that when you’re in a hole you should stop digging.

Darien Fenton’s attack on Sir Peter Leitch was vindictive and stupid. Louisa Wall’s attempt to explain makes matters worse.

Someone who cares about Labour should take away all the spades before the hole gets any deeper.


Apology won’t heal the harm – updated

September 30, 2011

Labour MP Darien Fenton has apologised for the vitriolic attack she made on Sir Peter Leitch when she took exception to his support for John Key.

He is a man with a very big heart and no doubt he will accept the apology.

But it won’t heal the harm the comments have done to Labour.

She says she wasn’t calling for a boycott but she said she wouldn’t use the Mad Butcher shops, even though Sir Peter no longer owns them:

The owner of The Mad Butcher chain, Michael Morton, says Labour MP Darien Fenton is grossly misguided in suggesting a boycott of the butcheries.

“She is having a go at The Mad Butcher founder, Sir Peter Leitch, simply because he made some nice remarks about the Prime Minister, John Key. Well he has made favourable comments in the past also about the former Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and she (Ms Fenton) didn’t get mad about that,” said Mr Morton today.

“Sir Peter hasn’t owned The Mad Butcher for more than two years now, although he still promotes the brand.

“Her postings on the internet are mean-spirited. Peter has earned his knighthood– he has not only done a lot for New Zealand in supporting the Warriors and contributing to charity, but he is also apolitical.

“And to also try to drag the company into her argument is ridiculous. I think she owes apologies all round.”

The apology as printed in the Herald doesn’t specify whether she takes back her threat not to buy from the Mad Butcher again.

It is unlikely her rant had any impact on the businesses but it inflicted another wound on her party, even though her leader Phil Goff was far more gracious:

I’m a real Warriors fan. I’ve been going to their matches for years and have
caught up with the Mad Butcher many times. He is a great guy and a great
ambassador for rugby league. He is absolutely entitled to express whatever
opinion he likes. Go the Warriors against Manly.”

Fenton’s comments were what Keeping Stock refers to as a SMOG – a Social Media Own Goal.

She made them on Tuesday and it’s taken until Friday for her to realise she “went too far”.

In the meantime it’s gone around the blogs and into the mainstream media reminding voters yet again that Labour is making too much of a mess of opposition to be trusted anywhere near government.

UDPATE: Whaleoil, who broke the story, had a phone call from Sir Peter who said how badly hurt he was.


It’s about running the country

September 20, 2011

Sir Peter Leitch, who might be better known as the Mad Butcher, was Jim Mora’s guest on Nine Eight Months to Mars yesterday.

At about 14:25 he said:

I’ve never been involved in politics in my life. Never. This year I’ve become very focused on the election because I think the election will be the biggest election of our life, in my time and I’m a great supporter of John Keys (sic). I’m a great supporter and I’m publicly supporting him now and I’ve never done that in my life. Helen Clark was a very good friend of mine but I never came out and endorsed her. But I think this election’s so important that people like me need to make a stand. You know because I think its Christchurch, Pike River, you know my father was from the West Coast so I know about mining. It’s really set us, it’s set the country back, Jim, big time,

Jim Mora: Some of those Christchurch Labour MPs have done a good job though.

Sir Peter: I’m not questioning that. I’m talking about running the country Jim.

The election is about running the country and it’s not just politically blue people like me who think John Key and National are doing that well in extraordinarily difficult times.

Nor is it just hard core supporters who think John Key and the National Party, with the one or more of the minor parties voters decide to make potential allies, that will do that far better than a Labour, Green, New Zealand First, Maori Party, Mana Party coalition.

Sir Peter’s comments mirror the polls which show a lot of people without my bias think so too.

It is not impossible for that thinking to change between now and November 26th, but it would take a lot more than anything Labour has come up with so far.


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