Retail fuel for first market study

Source: New Zealand Government

The retail fuel market will be the first Commerce Commission market study, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced today.

 “This Government is committed to easing financial pressure on families,” Jacinda Ardern said. “I have previously voiced my concern about the high cost of fuel, because it is a core expense for consumers and businesses.

 “New Zealanders deserve peace of mind that the price they’re paying at the pump is fair,” Jacinda Ardern said. “At the moment we can’t definitively say whether that is in fact the case across New Zealand so this is a market that most certainly warrants a full investigation.”

 Kris Faafoi said that while there were several possible markets mooted for consideration, the retail fuel market clearly met the test for investigations.

 “Simply, it’s in the public interest to ensure people and business aren’t paying too much for fuel. There are existing indications of competition problems in the retail fuel market that are of concern to me, such as the more than doubling of petrol and diesel importer margins over the past decade,” Kris Faafoi said.

 “It’s also a market that is hugely important to consumers and to our economy, given the extent to which we rely on fuel and the size of the market, with around six billion litres of petrol and diesel consumed for land transport use annually.

“The Commerce Commission will be undertaking a full and thorough analysis into competition in the retail fuel market. This will enable us to better understand the market conditions and determine whether consumers’ interests are being protected at present, and if not, what action needs to be taken.”

 The terms of reference for the study into retail fuel markets are expected be published in the Gazette on Wednesday 5 December, when the Commerce Commission will start the study.

The Commission will provide further information about the process and updates and will be required to publish a final report by 5 December 2019.

 The Terms of Reference for the competition study into retail fuel markets are available on the MBIE website, here.


National standard for organics

Source: New Zealand Government

A national standard for organic production will be progressed as a Government bill next year, Agriculture and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. 

“A national standard gives consumers confidence in organic claims and businesses certainty to invest and innovate in the growing sector,” Damien O’Connor said. 

“It’ll also help grow our organic export trade as it brings us in line with international approaches to regulation. We are one of only two of the top 25 organic markets in the world that have voluntary instead of mandatory standards.

 “The global demand for organic products is increasing and our organic sector has responded with growth of 30 per cent over the past couple of years, and is now worth about $600 million a year. 

 “A majority of public submissions earlier this year supported the Government’s approach of a single set of rules for organic production. 

“I’m pleased we can now move ahead with the changes so our agribusinesses can extract more value from what they do as soon as possible,” Damien O’Connor said.

 The Green Party has long-supported the growth of the organics sector. 

“We know organics is key to sustainable land use and helps reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted producer of high-value natural products,” Primary Industries spokesperson for the Greens Gareth Hughes said. 

The next step is to draft an organics bill to be introduced next year and there will be opportunities for the public and the sector to feed back at the Select Committee stage.

 Mr O’Connor was joined by Mr Hughes for the announcement at the Horticulture Export Authority’s release of the report Barriers to Our Export Trade in Wellington today, following Cabinet’s approval earlier in the day.

Tourism insider to development studies scholar

Source: Massey University

Master of International Development graduate Loren Rutherford investigated public-private partnerships in the Pacific cruise ship sector.

Master of International Development graduate Loren Rutherford went from working as a tourism industry insider to pursuing academic research critiquing tourism’s impact on local communities it relies on.

She spent 15 years in the marketing and operational sector of a tourism business she managed in South Africa’s Cape Town, organising tour groups across 14 countries in Southern and East Africa. But she found herself feeling at odds with aspects of what she observed of relationships between tourism and communities. 

Ms Rutherford, who now works as Senior Programme Officer at Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in Wellington with responsibility for Polynesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati, says she reached a point in her tourism job feeling she “needed to know a lot more about the world.”

She had begun to feel uncomfortable witnessing what she saw as “colonial overtones” to African tourism and a lack of safeguarding for communities involved in tourism. She was curious about the limitations in communication between the tourism private sector, academia and country level regulatory bodies.

When she left the tourism industry, Ms Rutherford studied a Bachelor of Arts by distance while she was living in the Elgin Valley, near Cape Town, majoring in sociology and taking papers in New Zealand history, development studies and social anthropology. After a study trip to India she wanted to continue investigating the social impacts of tourism and found development studies to be the ideal discipline for her interests.

Her master’s thesis examines the impact of a public-private partnership for development in cruise ship tourism for Vanuatu communities. She is interested in the tensions between the economic drivers of the private sector tourism and needs of various stakeholders, from passengers to local communities affected by the impact of tourism.

While there is “a lot of high-level talk about incorporating the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs),” she says there is not a lot of evidence of this in practice in the tourism industry.

In her work at Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), she develops the type of assignments her organisation needs volunteers for and assists with the recruitment, preparation and in-country support of the volunteers and in-country staff. “The focus is on our development partners identifying their need and VSA developing partnerships that address this capacity for the benefit of local communities,” she says. “I really enjoy the type of development that VSA does – it’s peer-to-peer work.” 

One example from Tonga is a highly educated population that exists alongside skills shortages. Volunteer Service Abroad recruits skilled New Zealand volunteers to work alongside counterparts and, through mentorship and/or training, build the skills capacity so Tongan people have the ability to meet their own identified needs. 

Ms Rutherford, who grew up in the small Wairarapa town of Pahiatua, says her discovery of development studies was a turning point for her in finding a framework to examine and understand the issues that interest her. 

She says she highly values the collegiality of staff in the Development Studies programme and the diverse projects around the globe they are working on. “It’s really exciting to have all these amazing people to connect with!”

As well as having tutored on the new Bachelor of Arts level two core paper, Tū Rangaranga: Global Encounters, she is currently organising VSA’s delegation from Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the major upcoming Tourism and the SDGS conference hosted by Massey’s School of People, Environment and Planning in January, 2019, at the Auckland campus, Albany.

Mirror, not inquiry needed for government to understand high fuel prices

Source: Taxpayers Union

Mirror, not inquiry needed for government to understand high fuel prices
If the Government wants to understand the causes of high petrol prices, it should look in the mirror, not fund an expensive inquiry, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The recent spike, and now drop, in petrol prices shows that the market’s influence on petrol price varies. What is constant, however, is the Government’s fuel tax, which makes up close to 50 per cent of current prices.” “The Government’s conspicuous hand-wringing over the conduct on petrol companies looks like an attempt to distract from its ongoing tax revenue grab – set to escalate with further petrol tax hikes in 2019 and 2020.” “The Prime Minister is playing loose with the truth when she says tax revenue goes straight into improving our roads. Her Government has persued a strategy of raiding excise tax revenues to fund projects motorists don’t use – like trams and cycleways.”

Whakatane Police disappointed at number of weekend crashes

Source: New Zealand Police

Please attribute to Sergeant Ray Wylie, Road Policing Manager Eastern Bay of Plenty: 
Whakatane Police are very disappointed at the number of crashes attended over the weekend.
Police attended ten crashes between Friday afternoon and 5.30pm on Sunday.
Initial indications are that a potential factor in most of the crashes was a failure to recognise the wet conditions of the roads, with drivers not slowing down enough to successfully negotiate bends and corners, losing control of their vehicles. 
In two of the crashes over the weekend, alcohol is also suspected to have been a contributing factor.
This is hugely disappointing, considering six drivers are believed to have died on Eastern Bay of Plenty roads this year due to driving impaired by alcohol.
As summer kicks off and more and more people are out and about on the roads, we really need people to be paying attention to the basics: wear your seatbelt, don’t drive while impaired or distracted, and watch your speed.  
Police also focused on boy-racer type activity over the weekend, with the pictured car being seized for this type of offending. 

Issued by Police Media Centre. 

PhD explores important toddler-teacher attachment

Source: Massey University

Dr Raewyne Bary explored the barriers to under-threes forming close attachments to a teacher in child care centres.

As the head teacher at Massey’s Child Care Centre on the Manawatū campus, Raewyne Bary has plenty of experience in the needs of the very young. Her doctoral thesis explores the barriers to forming close attachments between toddlers and teachers.

Dr Bary graduated on Friday with a Doctor of Education thesis titled: Personal, interpersonal and organisational factors that enable or constrain the development of attachment-type relationships between infants, toddlers and their teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood settings. In it, she examines teacher education and understandings of attachment theory, as well as how rigid adherence to rosters and staff rotations can become a barrier to teachers forging the kind of bond necessary for a youngster’s optimal development.

Without that close bond with a teacher, often youngsters can become “lost children” – a phenomenon she has observed in some centres that prioritise organisational structure and routines above the emotional needs of the very young.

She says research has demonstrated that “close and affectionate relationships between infants/toddlers and teachers within early childhood settings are of vital significance. It is within these relationships that infants’ and toddlers’ cognitive, emotional and physical health is promoted and protected”.

These relational experiences, she says in the study, form “the blueprint for the manner in which children and adults approach and negotiate current and future relationships”.

Her mixed-method design study, which comprised three case studies of early childhood centres and a national survey of over 200 centres throughout New Zealand, identified the “structural and process quality factors that predict high quality relationship development opportunities between teachers, infants and toddlers”.

“It is in the structures such as rosters, or duty lists, and staff rotations where relationship opportunities get missed or unfulfilled,” she says. 

Her findings suggest that centres should consider reducing teacher rotation in the infant and toddler areas to promote consistency and continuity for the infants and toddlers and their families/whānau. The concept of “pivoting” – being more flexible and responsive to a child’s needs, rather than strictly following a roster – is essential for key teachers in successfully forming an attachment with a toddler, she says. 

Dr Bary says there can be misunderstandings in the early education field about the role of attachment. Healthy attachment does not overshadow or threaten the child’s primary caregivers at home but increases their experience of having a secure base. “From this, they develop a good sense of self and become confident, active explorers,” she says.

Healthy attachment during the first three years of life has a major impact, determining resilience and emotional self-regulation – particularly in teenage years – as well as being a predictor of wellbeing and even income levels later in life, she says. With an increase in the numbers of New Zealand children being placed in day care, and often for longer periods, it is critical that centre management develops a deeper understanding of how the organisation’s culture impacts the child-teacher relationship, she adds.

Dr Raewyne Bary with Maddox at the Massey Child Care centre where she works.

Insider insights and a national perspective

Dr Bary has been involved in early childhood education for the past 35 years. During this time, she completed the Supervisor’s Certificate and Federation Certificate for Playcentre, a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Education at Massey. She is currently the curriculum leader of two infant and toddler rooms at Massey Child Care Centre and supports a teaching team of 14. 

Her interest in the issue of attachment arose while she was involved in the Ministry of Education’s Centre of Innovation Programme as a practitioner researcher from 2005 to 2007, investigating identified areas of innovation to improve and showcase examples of good practice. During seminars and workshops at childcare centres throughout the country, she encountered resistance to the idea of a key teacher. 

“Participants often voiced how such systems [with a key teacher] would be inappropriate, with concerns of children becoming too attached to teachers or the organisational manageability of maintaining teacher duties and rosters if this type of programme were implemented.

“It was during visits to centres that I observed what I called ‘lost children’,” she writes. “These were toddlers who appeared to drift on the periphery of the room, toddlers who were consistently missed or overlooked, made invisible by practices that failed to provide opportunities for prolonged intentional engagement between them and their teachers. 

“These children were perhaps shy, withdrawn, or had temperaments that were less endearing to teachers than that of others. What I observed during these times were well-meaning teachers who were trying to do the best they could, but were often constrained in discovering, or finding the “gift” in these children by their organisational cultures that prioritised tasks (rosters, duties) over attachment-type relationship development opportunities.”

A number of teachers expressed feeling constrained or frustrated by the policies and practices of their workplace, resulting in following programmes that amounted to “basic babysitting”.

Her supervisors were Associate Professor Alison Arrow, at Massey’s Institute of Education, and Professor Claire McLachlan (formerly at Massey and now at Waikato University).

Waiatarua Reserve a priority for community

Source: Auckland Council

Over the weekend, Ōrākei Local Board and members of the community celebrated the opening of the newly redeveloped Waiatarua Reserve carpark at Meadowbank.

Waiatarua Reserve is much-loved by locals and is New Zealand’s biggest urban wetland restoration project.

Previously, the Reserve’s gravel carpark had suffered from a number of potholes but the redevelopment has seen it tar sealed with the addition of footpaths, kerbs and dog washing facilities.

Ōrākei Local Board Chair Kit Parkinson says the board members are proud to have funded the redevelopment of the reserve’s carpark.

“Waiatarua Reserve is a key priority for our board, both recreationally and environmentally. It’s important to us that the reserve is easy to access for the wide variety of user groups who visit,” he says.

The board has also improved walking tracks in the reserve and constructed a new bridge at the Grand Drive entrance for pedestrians, as well as funding a number of other renewal upgrades for parks and reserves in the area.

The building next to the carpark is leased by the board to Men’s Shed Auckland East, a community group which assists the Eastern Bays Songbird Initiative with making rodent traps. The group are pleased that construction of the carpark is complete and they no longer have to contend with potholes.

Find out more about Waiatarua Reserve and other wetlands you can visit in Auckland.

Thousands of EIT certificates printed in minutes

Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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1 min ago

Errol Newport, EIT reprographic technician with a batch of the latest certificates soon to be presented.

Over 3300 certificates and diplomas are produced in-house by EIT each year to validate the success of students in their learning achievements.

Between now and Christmas a quarter of these will be handed to graduates in six certificate award ceremonies in Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Central Hawke’s Bay.

Other ceremonies, including the full graduation of degree and honours qualifications for students at the Hawke’s Bay, Tairāwhiti and Auckland campuses are held earlier in the year. Events are also held at the Auckland campus progressively through the year.

Described as a well-oiled machine, the process of preparing and checking certificate details by reprographic and faculty administration staff is the most time consuming aspect.

The actual printing takes a matter of minutes, with 100 certificates a minute flying through EIT’s inhouse Fuji Xerox Versant 3100 press, affectionately called Guy. 

EIT first Auckland campus director appointed

Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

1 min ago

Cherie Freeman has the auspicious claim to be the first campus director for EIT Auckland.

Cherie Freeman, Auckland Campus Manager

With 25 years in the institute of technology and polytechnic sector and the last 10 of those in leadership roles, Cherie is very comfortable to be heading up the International Graduate School campus that spans three floors of a high rise in Auckland’s CBD.

The recently renovated campus is specifically for international students who want the EIT experience but in a faster pace lifestyle more in keeping with what they are used to. The campus predominantly offers postgraduate qualifications in business, computing and health science. There are also shorter English language programmes and IELTS testing.

Cherie says meeting the students who have already studied, had jobs and life experience was fascinating. “Their experiences in their home countries and what they think of New Zealand has been enlightening.”

She comments that New Zealand is in competition with other tertiary providers nationally and globally, with the USA highly attractive for many. “To get students this far south is a huge credit to the EIT international marketing team.”

EIT established its Auckland campus in 2013 and since then has enjoyed around 60 percent year on year growth in student numbers. It is currently sitting at around 310 full time equivalent students, although the actual number of students is much higher.

For Cherie her overriding goal is to ensure student satisfaction. “It’s very important to me that we focus on our students’ experience and work to improve on that. Satisfaction levels are currently very favourable, but like any high performing institute there is always room for improvement.”

Drawing on her Ngāpuhi‎ links, Cherie is keen to bring more Mātauranga Māori into the campus and learning. This is something her international students are keen to experience as part of their time in New Zealand.

The fast pace of the Auckland environment, the strong growth in student enrolments, and current state of the ITP sector generally, means that Cherie sees the need to be agile and make informed decisions quickly.

Her experience will allow her to achieve this she believes, backed by the leadership strength she sees evident within EIT.

“EIT’s leadership, vision, and commitment to student-centred learning all align with what’s very important to me. I believe the collective emotional intelligence evident at EIT will ensure its ongoing success.  I’m looking forward to adding my contribution.”

Wellington GPs plan rolling strikes in the lead-up to Christmas over exclusion of dentists from collective agreement

Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

Doctors at five Wellington practices plan to walk off the job in support of their dental colleagues – believed to be the first time a strike has taken place in a GP practice.

Twenty-one GPs employed by Te Rūnanga O Toa Rangatira (Ora Toa Primary Health) practices across Porirua and in Newtown in Wellington have overwhelmingly voted for a series of rolling stoppages, says Lloyd Woods, Senior Industrial Officer at the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

These include five one-hour stoppages from 9am on 7, 10, 13, 18 and 19 December, followed by a full day strike on 24 December by 21 GPs.

“This was obviously a difficult decision for these doctors to make so it reflects the strength of feeling in those practices,” says Mr Woods.

“They’re very mindful of their patients so have planned the strikes to minimise disruption for patients. We believe it is the first time in New Zealand that salaried GPs in a practice have taken industrial action, and the GPs involved in this dispute regret that they’ve been put in this position. It’s a ‘first’ that no one wants.”

He says Ora Toa is refusing to allow the GPs’ two dental colleagues to join the collective agreement negotiated by ASMS.  “Ora Toa’s refusal is inexplicable and unfair. The collective agreement provides important protections for GPs and of course their dental colleagues should be equally protected. It’s worth noting that dentists are covered by other collective agreements negotiated by ASMS, including the main agreement covering senior doctors and dentists in the country’s 20 DHBs.”

Ora Toa established the dental service in the Porirua suburb of Cannons Creek in 2008. It was one of five Maori health providers to receive Ministry of Health support after presenting a business case.  Almost all of the GPs employed by Ora Toa are members of ASMS, as are the two dentists.

“These practices provide essential dental treatment for their local communities, which include some of the most disadvantaged people in the country,” says Mr Woods.

“They have rightly received accolades for this work, including from ASMS. It makes it even more baffling that they are refusing to recognise their dentists as part of the medical team providing holistic care for the practices’ patients.

“Our members are disappointed that practices that pride themselves on equitable treatment are not taking the same approach with two key members of their staff.”