Since August, the Government’s response to lockdown hardship has been more piecemeal and inadequate than it was last year. Why?
Heartwarmingly, this latest lockdown is showing how much our communities care for each other: teachers for their students, church leaders for their congregations, and rangatira for their hapū and for, well, everyone. Whānau, family, friends and charities are doing what they can to give hope to children and young people during lockdown, and to ensure they are warm, with access to online education and appropriate nourishing food.
But they can only do so much. Government – the only actor with the power to ensure all families are flourishing, free from the toxic stress of poverty – has not done enough to prevent, or even reduce, lockdown-expense despair and educational exclusion for low-income children this time around. Families face high unexpected bills for power, internet access and groceries – particularly as food-in-schools programmes are halted. But in the face of abundant evidence that the stop-gap measures initiated in the first 2020 lockdown for low-income families were nowhere near enough, this year, unbelievably, the Government has done even less.
Let’s look at what-might-have-been. Since early 2020, the Government’s economic response to the pandemic could – and should – have aimed to elevate children’s wellbeing. Given food insecurity was already affecting one in five children in Aotearoa pre-Covid, last year Government could have reformed welfare and Working for Families (WFF) as long-promised, in response to Covid. Given how vital internet access is for education (even outside of lockdown), last year would have been a good time for the Government to resource, champion and achieve universal digital inclusion. Home building by the state should have been ramped up exponentially. With those basics in place, we would have started to ensure all children in Aotearoa could thrive, develop, play, learn and grow free from poverty, as is their right, and their families would have had the financial resilience to better weather this current lockdown.
But of course, none of those things happened. Instead, last year children already in deprivation bore the brunt of the early pandemic while property investors saw their wealth balloon. Last November, the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern was warned by her officials that “the most severe negative effects” of the pandemic were likely to be felt by families who were “already disadvantaged”. A recent Child Poverty Action Group research review, on the first year of Covid-19, confirmed this: family stress, caregiver loneliness, homelessness and foodbank use spiked with the initial lockdown, and then – worryingly – stayed high. Inequality increased in rates of chronic school absence and infant immunisations. CPAG modelling suggests child poverty increased by around 10% in the year to March 2021, on a key government measure.
Lack of income is a major factor in all this distress and opportunity loss. Yet the Government’s response has been “we don’t need to do as much as we did last year”. Unlike last year, the Government has introduced no lockdown-related benefit increases since lockdown started in August, nor have they doubled the Winter Energy Payment. The small, partial benefit increases in July were insufficient even prior to the Delta lockdown. The upshot: until the end of September, in spite of a harder lockdown, many families received just the same weekly benefit incomes as they had at the same time last year. Yet rent, power and fruit & veg prices keep breaking records.
It’s hard not to conclude that the Government is conscious of its neglect of children and young people. They’re smoke-screening their stubborn lack of action: hiding behind their support for foodbanks as if you can pay for digital schooling with bread; talking about next year’s benefit increases at Question Time as if they’re already distributed; obfuscating with “watch this space” and “we’re monitoring need” as if communities aren’t desperate. It’s gob-smacking.
The upshot: Thousands of children are without access to basic education and quality food. Their caregivers are dealing with the distress of disempowerment due to lack, prevented from giving their children what they know is best for them. Deprivation is further entrenched by government neglect in response to lockdown, inviting despair and mistrust – at the very time as trust in the government is vital for public health initiatives to work. And very directly, Prof Michael Baker and other public health experts have called for increases in economic support for those in poverty and hardship, to ensure everyone has the means, as well as the will, to comply with restrictions. As Dr Renee Liang points out, paediatricians see the effects of inequity and child poverty daily, and know “the populations most affected by Covid and most likely to die from it are those living under socioeconomic strain and indigenous populations”.
Communities via foodbanks are being asked to pick up the pieces of Government failure. Shamefully, the size of unmet community need is hundreds of times greater than the additional $20-odd million given to charity foodbanks this lockdown. That amount of new support is less than one percent of the $3 billion handed out in wage subsidies and business support so far in this lockdown alone.
If the wage subsidy is a high trust model, then Government over-reliance on foodbanks is possibly the lowest-trust model there is. Food insecurity is caused by lack of income: parents and caregivers know what groceries their families need but are being denied the income to make those decisions. Sector research shows only 25% of food providers can regularly source fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus you can’t pay your rent and power with groceries.
We agree with Treasury that the Government will not meet all their self-set child poverty reduction targets next year. We have all been let down by a government who talks the talk but barely walks the walk for children in poverty. We need to see welfare reform fast-tracked and universal digital inclusion put in place asap.
Meanwhile, whether or not they’re still in lockdown, families need more income now, as they deal with ongoing Covid-related debt and worry. The Government has multiple delivery options until genuine welfare reform kicks in: ensuring all low-income families are eligible for all Working for Families payments, and bringing forward next year’s benefit increases, would be a start. This month, the Winter Energy Payment ended, with families losing $30 each a week. Reintroducing this vital payment as an acknowledgement that lockdown is tough would help to rebuild hope and a sense that the Government cares, at the same time as it’s requesting all sorts of difficult actions. It would also help to rebuild the trust in the Government which is so vital as we all continue to deal with the social, economic and health fallout of this crisis.
There are 60 new community cases today; 57 in Auckland and three in the Waikato. As at 10am, 36 of these cases are linked – 18 of which are household contacts – and 24 remain unlinked, with investigations continuing to help determine their connection to the outbreak.
Number of new community cases: 60
Number of new cases identified at the border: Five
Location of new community cases: Auckland (57) Waikato (3)
Location of community cases (total): Auckland 1,943 (1,350 of whom have recovered); Waikato 45 (3 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered)
Number of community cases (total): 2,005 (in current community outbreak)
Cases infectious in the community: 25 of yesterday’s 51 cases have exposure events
Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious: 26 of yesterday’s 51 cases
Cases epidemiologically linked: 36 of today’s 60 cases
Cases to be epidemiologically linked: 24 of today’s 60 cases
Cases epidemiologically linked (total): 1,841 (in the current cluster) (140 unlinked from the past 14 days)
Cases in hospital: 30 (total): North Shore (5); Middlemore (12); Auckland (13)
Cases in ICU or HDU: Five
Confirmed cases (total) *: 4,696 since pandemic began
Historical cases: 171 out of 2,881 since 1 Jan 2021
*One case reported yesterday has been reclassified as under investigation as a possible historical case and has been removed from the case total.
Number of active contacts being managed (total): 1896
Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements): 83%
Percentage with at least one test result: 75%
Locations of interest
Locations of interest (total): 455 (as at 10am 18 October)
Number of tests (total): 3,773,075
Number of tests total (last 24 hours): 20,809
Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours): 7,490
Tests rolling average (last 7 days): 24,355
Testing centres in Auckland: 19
Wastewater detections: Ongoing detections at most sites across Auckland
COVID-19 vaccine update
Vaccines administered to date (total): 6,344,212; 1st doses: 3,572,298 (85%); 2nd doses: 2,271,914 (66%)
Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday: 2,040,250
New cases identified at the border
Positive test day/reason
Managed isolation/quarantine location
Day 0 / routine
United Arab Emirates
Day 0 / routine
United Arab Emirates
Day 2 / routine
To be advised
Day 3 / routine
United Arab Emirates
Day 0 / routine
A number of testing sites remain open around Northland today, including at the Three Furlongs Bar and Grill in Kaiwaka – on the boundary between Northland and Auckland. This site will also be open for testing tomorrow.
A staff member at Remuera Gardens retirement village in Auckland has been confirmed as having COVID-19 and was at work whilst infectious.
Public health staff are confident the risk of infection is low but, as a precaution, testing is being arranged for all staff and residents. Both staff and residents at the village have very high vaccination rates.
Public health staff in Auckland are continuing to urge anyone who is moving around Auckland in Level 3 to get a test if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
There are 19 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today.A full list of sites and opening hours can be found on the Healthpoint website.
Mobile surveillance testing of residential facilities is continuing, including emergency housing, transitional housing, boarding houses, motels and community housing providers. So far, testing has been completed at approximately 50 sites.
There are three new cases in Waikato. One is linked to known cases, while interviews and investigations are continuing to determine any link for the other two cases.
Investigations are also continuing to determine the links of two cases reported last week and two cases from yesterday.
Waikato DHB’s website and Healthpoint have up to date information on community testing centres in the region. Pop up testing sites have opened in Hamilton, Whatawhata (west of Hamilton) and Kihikihi (near Te Awamutu).
Yesterday there were 4,020 tests undertaken in Waikato and almost 1,489 doses of vaccine administered.
The importance of wearing a lifejacket on a boat and planning for the unexpected has been highlighted in a report evaluating the key contributing factors into 92 recreational boating accidents between January 2015 and December 2020.
The accidents claimed 98 lives between them.
The report released by Maritime New Zealand catalogues a significant number of on-water fatalities, many of which were preventable.
Sharyn Forsyth, Maritime NZ Deputy Director and Chair of the Safer Boating Forum, says the report makes for sombre reading.
“Each year a number of people die while participating in recreational boating, an activity pursued for enjoyment, or for the benefit of friends or family.
“The tragedy at the Manukau Bar with the loss of three lives over the weekend is a horrific lead-in to Safer Boating Week, which runs this week.
“We had hoped these lives could have been saved. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the families of those lost.
“Each accident is tragic and has its own unique set of circumstances, but the common factors across these accidents can help highlight ways that similar incidents may be prevented in the future.”
The report found a majority of those who died in recreational boating accidents died from drowning after they ended up in the water from either falling overboard, or the vessel capsizing or being swamped (filling with water).
The highest number of accidents occurred on small power boats, small powered and unpowered dinghies or inflatable boats.
Most recreational boating accidents happened suddenly, and people were in the water before they had time to use emergency equipment that was not already being worn.
“35 people died after falling overboard from a vessel that remained upright and floating. These deaths are likely preventable if the deceased was wearing a lifejacket.
“Behind each death is someone’s whānau and friends, who unfortunately never had an opportunity to farewell their loved ones.
“We owe it to their families and friends to understand these circumstances to ensure we can do all we can to prevent senseless deaths on the water,” says Ms Forsyth.
Maritime NZ will use the information to help inform New Zealand’s Recreational Craft Safety Strategy. It will also support the work of non-government organisations who focus on water safety and share our aim to prevent recreational boating deaths on the water.
92 recreational boating accidents resulted in 98 deaths or persons missing or presumed dead. The key causes are:
Accidents occurring suddenly and often without warning
Multiple people entering the water unexpectedly in challenging conditions
People falling overboard while alone on the vessel
No way to call for help
A lifejacket available but not worn, or improperly used
Most accidents occurred on inland waters or coastal waters less than two kilometres from shore.
The victims of these accidents are overwhelmingly male, and primarily over the age of 45.
Both Maori and Pacific people are over represented compared to their participation numbers, with Maori victims making up 16% of fatalities (v 12% of participation), and Pacific victims making up 10% of fatalities (v 3% of participation).
WEL Networks and Infratec are preparing to construct a 35MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). The battery will play a pivotal role in the reduction of emissions in the Waikato and will support New Zealand’s Net Zero goal of becoming 100% renewable by 2030.
The BESS will provide the opportunity for more renewable generation to be installed, with the large scale battery able to store energy from a range of renewable sources including wind and solar. The project will deliver strengthened reliability of electricity supply for Waikato customers and will benefit the national grid through its ability to help correct supply and demand imbalances.
“This technology will help network resilience while supporting renewable generation uptake. Lodging resource consent for this $25 million project is a huge milestone for WEL,” Chief Executive Garth Dibley says.
WEL Networks and Infratec are in the final stages of carefully assessing the battery opportunity. The 35MW battery will store enough energy to meet the daily demands of over 2,000 homes and will be capable of providing fast reserve support for the North Island grid at times of high demand.
“Infratec are recognised as leaders in battery installation and low carbon energy projects. We’ve used our collective international battery experience to develop this exciting opportunity with WEL,” Infratec General Manager Business Development Nick Bibby says.
“Batteries will need to be embedded in networks to best serve local communities. We have selected a mature technology with a 20-year life span, so we expect this battery to be making headlines for all the right reasons for years to come.”
Maximising the benefits for New Zealand
Batteries are expected to play an increasing role in New Zealand as the country transitions to Net Zero. WEL’s battery will be designed to serve all parts of the electricity supply chain.
“We strongly believe that our battery will offer value to WEL network customers by, supporting the charging of EV’s, maximising the benefits of solar power and providing back up during grid emergencies.” Dibley says.
Further Government support for New Zealand’s longest-standing sustainable business organisation will open up opportunities for dozens of workers impacted byCOVID-19 to jump start a nature-based career, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.
Partnering to Plant Aotearoa, led by the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), is a collaboration with iwi, hapū and local community groups to undertake small-scale but valuable ecological restoration.
“A further $2.5million will allow SBN to bring two more partner groups on board, opening up 60 jobs across the country and generating more than 53,000 hours of conservation work.
“We know many young people and part-timers have been affected by these uncertain times. Partnering to Plant specifically targets both of those groups and is aimed at helping them get a foot-hold in a job that could lead on to a career in conservation.
“The work includes extensive planting, weeding and fencing to improve habitat and food sources for native species, protect endangered species from predators, and improve water and air quality.
“This is about empowering action across Aotearoa New Zealand in a way that addresses the direct pressures our biodiversity faces.
“Supporting work which provides positive impacts on conservation, keeps boots on the ground and aids in our economic recovery, is what our Jobs for Nature programme is all about.
“We’re proud to support this project and an organisation whose goals align with the kaupapa of Jobs for Nature in supporting communities to be champions for the environment,” Kiri Allan said.
PPTA is calling for proposals to research and write the recent period of its history, culminating in the publication of a high quality book.
History never repeats for PPTA Te Wehengarua.
Since the publication in 2003 of Those Who Can Teach, a history of the Association from its beginnings in 1952, there have been many significant changes in the New Zealand education sector and the Association.
PPTA is now issuing a Request for Proposal to update this recent period of the Association’s history and potentially refresh some areas covered in Those Who Can Teach that would benefit from more time having passed.
It is intended for this project to produce a high quality book which would be launched as part of the celebrations of PPTA Te Wehengarua’s 70th anniversary towards the end of next year.
If you are interested in researching and writing the recent history of PPTA Te Wehengarua, we would love to hear from you.
Request for Proposal Updating the History of PPTA Te Wehengarua
New findings from the Consumer NZ sentiment tracker found that 15% of New Zealanders had no savings, and a further 27% were anxious about their level of savings and would like to have more tucked away.
“Stagnant wage growth and the rising cost of living means that many people are living pay cheque to pay cheque – they just can’t get ahead. Unsurprisingly when we asked New Zealanders what they consider to be the most concerning issues, the cost of living came second only to the state of our nation’s housing,” Consumer NZ head of communications and campaigns Gemma Rasmussen said.
“Many people are struggling to put money away, with only one in four satisfied with their level of savings. Many are doing it tough – over the past three months, half of New Zealanders had saved 5% or less of their income.
“One in 10 respondents spent more than they saved, landing themselves in the red.”
The nationally representative survey found a fifth of those aged 50-59 had no savings at all, more than any other age group. While respondents in this age group are struggling to save, their looming retirements are weighing heavily on mind. Six out of 10 noted retirement as being one of their saving priorities (along with 71% of those aged 60-69 years old).
The standard of living for those in their 50’s and 60’s isn’t getting much better either. For both groups, only one in 10 felt their standard of living had improved over the past year.
Earlier this year, the Sentiment Tracker revealed that rising costs have rippled into the housing market. Three out of five property owners said they’d be unable to afford to buy the homes in which they currently live.
Our survey: The Consumer NZ Sentiment Tracker is a nationally representative body of data that grows by more than 1000 respondents every three months. Tracking everything from environmental awareness and financial sentiment to general levels of trust for major industries – it looks to provide a holistic understanding of how New Zealanders feel about a range of issues.
Notes on our numbers: 15% of New Zealanders over age 18 equates to 527,231 people, according to 2018 New Zealand census estimates.
It’s time to vote for your president and junior vice-president.
Voting for the positions of president and junior vice-president is being conducted online in early Term 4. This is a change to previous years and one that is being made due to uncertainty around COVID-19 levels, and the potential health and safety issues associated with running paper-based voting.
PPTA has received two nominations for president and two for junior vice-president. Each candidate explains why they should be elected. Voting closes 5pm, Friday 29 October.
Presidential and junior vice-presidential candidate Miles Langdon – Macleans College
I see remuneration as the key to retaining and recruiting quality staff. Small increases we fight tooth and nail for seem to be consumed by inflation, and/or a hike in fees. Women need to be supported more in the profession but so too do men – given that, for various reasons, the proportion of men in secondary teaching is reducing. Māori, Pasifika teachers, LGBTQ+ teachers, women teachers should all be encouraged to move ahead in the profession, but I just don’t think it should be at the expense of collectivism of the union. We need to stand together on the issue of fighting for more pay.
Secondary teachers also need to stand apart from our primary/kindergarten colleagues. For years they have taken advantage of a clause in their contract which requires the government to offer them whatever is offered to us. This has undermined the dignity or ‘mana’ of the secondary profession.
NCEA continues to be a vexed issue. Proposed changes to the structure of it don’t seem to do anything to lessen teacher workload. The writing, assessment and moderation of internals can be very onerous.
The conference paper “A home for everyone” is an issue the PPTA could take the initiative on and propel the homelessness and dire living arrangements of many in NZ into the spotlight. Many state servants (Nurses, Police, Teachers) are being excluded from the property market simply because wages are not conducive to saving for a deposit. In fact the PPTA has a role to play here; in pushing for the right for all working class NZrs to own their own home.
Finally, if I was elected I would commit myself to raising the status of secondary teaching in NZ to make it a sought after profession with competitive wages and more diverse. A career that reflects and embellishes NZ’s cultural, social and ethnic diversity.
Presidential candidate Melanie Webber – Current PPTA Te Wehengarua President
We are living in curious times. I’m writing this from Level 4 lockdown, so the uncertainty that I am sure will still be looming over us as you read this is heavy on me now. Last year I wrote my statement from the midst of a Level 3 lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau and the uncertainty was no less then.
In that statement I spoke about how the issues that seemed so big at the start of 2020 – the NCEA review, a grasping Teaching Council, school funding inequities and making the promises of the accord real – were no smaller then but had been overshadowed by COVID-19.
I said that wasn’t to say that these things were unimportant, and we must not take our eye off them as things changed so quickly around us. We needed to continue to make sure that teacher voice, the professional voice, was heard loud and clear when decisions are being made.
We have done that, and we continue to do that. I spent much of the last week in between meetings watching hundreds of our members represent our views on the teaching council to the select committee. I was so, so proud of our members. Their passion and their rhetoric. Their ability to stand up for our profession.
I am passionate about public education, and I am passionate about teaching. I want the best possible education system for students, and this doesn’t happen without making sure that we first have the best possible system and conditions for teachers.
Now more than ever we need to be speaking up for what is right for schools, for students and for teachers. I am proud to be a part of a union that does this, and I would be proud to be chosen to speak on your behalf.
Me mahi tahi tātou mō te oranga o te katoa. We must work together for the wellbeing of all.
Junior vice-presidential candidate Chris Abercrombie – James Hargest College
Having had the experience of working in a range of schools and in different areas of New Zealand, I have an appreciation of the many pressures that we face around the motu.
These pressures are coming to a head in the next year with the NCEA changes, the Curriculum Refresh, and the Collective negotiations. With my role as JVP and acting President in Term Two of this year, I have relished the chance to gain the experience needed to fight for members at this time of great change.
I believe that I can be a strong voice who reflects the diversity of experience of teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand. I understand the many obstacles and concerns we face in our daily working lives. I’ve also felt the incredible joy and sense of pride that we all have as teachers within our classrooms and schools.
We share in this journey; we are all paddling in the same waka. Every school – from Te Tai Tokerau Northland, all the way down to the bottom of Te Waipounamu (where I live) – should have what they need. To have what they need, so that they can truly bring out the best – in their teachers, in their students, and in their communities.
More than a third of New Zealand high school students have tried vaping, with 10 per cent vaping regularly and six per cent vaping weekly or more often, researchers have found.
About 80 per cent of those who reported vaping regularly and 90 per cent of those who vaped weekly or more often sometimes or always used e-cigarettes containing nicotine.Students often began experimenting with vaping at a young age, with 22 per cent of Year 9 students (13 and 14 year-olds) saying they had tried vaping.
The study is based on data from the Youth19 survey of secondary school students aged 13 to 18 in the Auckland, Northland, and Waikato education regions conducted in 2019. It reflects the situation before the Government banned the sale of vaping products to under 18-year-olds and prohibited e-cigarette marketing late last year.
Dr Jude Ball
Researcher Dr Jude Ball, from the University of Otago, Wellington, says the study highlights the importance of getting the balance right between making it easy for adult smokers to switch to less harmful vaping, while protecting young non-smokers.
“Our findings suggest that during 2018 and 2019, that balance was not achieved.”
Dr Ball says the survey found vaping to be two to three times more common than smoking among students, and was common among demographic groups unlikely to smoke. Two-thirds of those who had tried vaping, and nearly half of regular vapers, had never smoked.
“Nationally, this would translate to 15,000 regular vapers and 6,700 weekly vapers in the New Zealand secondary school population who have never smoked.”
Dr Ball says vaping among adolescents has increased sharply since the introduction of nicotine-containing ‘pod’ devices, such as JUUL and Vuse, to the New Zealand market in 2018.
Many pod devices use ‘nicotine salt’ technology, which delivers nicotine more efficiently into the bloodstream, and enables high nicotine concentrations without causing a harsh sensation in the mouth and throat.
“Our finding that 80 per cent of students who vape regularly are using nicotine is in contrast to a 2018 study which showed only 23 per cent of 14 and 15 year-old vapers had used nicotine the last time they vaped.
“It is also concerning that 17 per cent of those who had tried vaping, did not know whether they had used nicotine or not.”
Dr Ball says while vaping carries lower health risks than smoking, it is not harmless.
“Recent reports have highlighted the risk of acute lung injury in vapers, as well as chronic risks to cardiovascular, respiratory and oral health.
“Since e-cigarettes have only been widely available for about 10 years and respiratory illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances may only show up decades later, the impacts of long term use are still unknown.”
Dr Ball says the research underlines the need for mandatory on-pack health warnings and education campaigns targeting youth.
“Our findings show that vaping of nicotine has emerged as a new public health risk to adolescents, the vast majority of whom would otherwise be nicotine-free and smokefree. Thousands are now being exposed to vaping harms and potential nicotine addiction.”
Fellow researcher Associate Professor Terryann Clark (Ngāpuhi), from the University of Auckland, welcomes new Government proposals to invest in social marketing campaigns aimed at supporting young people to stay smokefree and vapefree.
“Our findings suggest that prevention campaigns will need to focus on much younger students, with one in five students having already tried vaping by the age of 14.”
She notes more needs to be done to enforce new laws brought in last year to restrict marketing and ban sales of vaping products to under 18s.
“Online marketing continues to target young people with competitions and promotions despite the law change, and we are aware of retailers who are still selling vaping products to young people under 18. What we’re hearing from schools is that prevalence of vaping has gone up, not down, since 2019.”
The study is the first to investigate vaping among all ages of high school students.
‘New Zealand Youth19 survey: vaping has wider appeal than smoking in secondary school students, and most use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes’Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Healthhttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.13169
For more information, please contact:
Dr Jude Ball ResearchFellow Department of Public HealthEmail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Terryann Clark NgāpuhiAssociate Professor School of Nursing University of AucklandEmail email@example.com
Dr Terry FlemingAssociate Professor School of Health Victoria University of WellingtonEmail firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl NorrieCommunications Adviser University of Otago, WellingtonMob +64 21 249 6787Email email@example.com