Featured

It’s not my rubbish but it’s my community!

“We are the protectors,” Max reminds others as he sets off up the wharf with bucket in hand.   Once a month a ‘flashmob’ of locals, liveaboard boaties, and visitors find the 90 minutes ‘Earthcare Opua’ gathering is not only rewarding but surprisingly enjoyable!   

Earthcare Opua remains deliberately unstructured. With no-one in charge, newcomers and regulars alike simply assemble in assorted hi-vis with bucket or bag and a protective glove.  The group searches for litter across Opua, ‘harvesting’ debris from roadsides, tracks and the wharf.  “Knowing what I have picked up may keep a seabird or fish safe, means a lot,” explains Janie, “It’s something practical I do once a month that really makes a difference!”

“I can’t believe all the cigarette butts,” a local says. “I must have picked up 100 or more, including a pile outside my mate’s business! Today I’ve found out butts contain plastic and when seagulls feed them to their chicks, it kills them. That’s so crazy!  Tomorrow, I’ll be down to chat with my mate!  I bet he doesn’t even realise! Maybe it’s his workers, maybe customers, but a sand can for stubs wouldn’t be hard eh?”

Amongst the liveaboards from the marina, a competitive element develops.  “Anyone else find more than a dozen cable ties, ‘cut and dropped’? “  A discussion begins around small bits of rubbish washed by yesterday’s under the hard stand fence.  “Another rain and they’d have been floating in the ocean!” says one overseas yachtie who sees the practical impact her work has had. ‘it’s good to help out, and, I’ll be more sparing with cable ties from now on!”

An Aucklander has come with his Opua friends.  He’s shocked by the number of pie wrappers he’s picked out of marina gardens!  Mainly though, he’s pleased his friends persuaded him to come along.  “It’s been great to meet all you guys.  I love coming up here and now I’ve done my bit to care for the Bay!”

Earthcare Opua meets outside The Opua Store the first Sunday of each month at 9am.  All welcome. *Opua Store and the Marina Café kindly support volunteers bringing a reusable cup with a complementary tea or coffee after the pick-up.

Are you unable to make Earthcare Opua next month but want to do your part to protect the Bay?

Opua Business owners – your business no doubt depends on the health of the sea. Is there something more you can do to support your customers and workers to care for our Bay?     

Seafarers – how many cable ties do you really need?

Smokers – could an empty Eclipse Mints tin in your pocket/bag/car be your new ‘butt holder’?

Pie lovers –Would you be willing to consider being a role model for protecting the bay? 

Householders – Still taking packaging you dislike home with your purchase? Help businesses step up to their responsibility to talk with their suppliers about earth-friendly alternatives by handing packaging back in at the store. #timetoasksupplierstochange 

Jane Banfield is a Paihia grandmother with a passion for the ocean.  Her first introduction to yachting was to marry the Kiwi yachtsman who 35 years ago happened upon the remote island school in Vanuatu where she was a volunteer teacher.  A keen kayaker, sailor and almost-daily swimmer, Jane is a self-styled ‘zero waste granny’ who has chosen a low impact packaging-free lifestyle and supports others in the Bay of Islands to do the same.

January 2021: a journal

1st Jan. As the new year opens, I, like a moko kakariki (local green gecko), appear afresh, a glorious healthy green, after a skin slough. The joys and the challenges of 2020 are behind, no going back, and in my new skin I’m so ready for this new beginning.

Upload filesMedia Library

2nd Jan. I’ve decided to eschew alcohol this month. It’s an experiment in wellbeing – does alcohol keep me from staying centred and staying ‘me’ in social situations?

8th Jan. Consumed by the situation unfolding in the States., doomscrolling fills much of my day. This in turn frustrates me! Twitter-sized doses feed an underlying addiction to cortisol. I’m hooked!

9th Jan. Donning my hi vis Zero-Waste-Granny vest, I’m off by bike via the Opua car ferry to Russell. It’s a chance to get bike fit and support the annual Tall Ships Race celebration. Recycling bins are set up and our job is to direct revellers in putting hangi food scraps, compostable plates, bottles and cans, and,regrettably, landill bound foil and plastic forks. 900 portions of the best hangi (yes, vegetarians catered for too) I’ve ever tasted, delivered within a friendly community atmosphere. Sated by food, useful discussions, and a job well done, I delight in the ferry ride to Paihia and cycle home in the dark over the hill back home.

10th Jan. I’m attempting oat milk. Keen to stop purchasing Tetrapaks – my biggest regular source of landfill rubbish – a friend has forwarded a recipe. 1 cup rolled oats. 4 cups water. Blend 45 seconds. That was easy! But straining through a teatowel is painfully slow and I end up squeezing it like a cow’s udder. The result is disappointingly watery…

16th Jan. By 7.30am I’ve cycled over the hill to the mangrove area beside the road. In 20 minutes the rubbish bag I’ve brought is full with roadside rubbish I’d seen from my car earlier this week. Life amongst the mangrove roots had called to me and I’ve answered. Biking homewards, my day’s schedule stacked with personal and business issues, feels easier to tackle. In a few precious minutes, I’ve discovered my flow with the web of life. There’s no better feeling. Thanks to me, all that plastic and other rubbish won’t tangle around the incredible life in the mangrove ecosystem, and I’ve recharged with flow. Win-win.

Leadership: “What is mine to do?”

TED-Branded-Complete“Leadership is the ability to create change,” explained Martin Luther King.   I long for change in the way we connect with each other and with the natural world so I know I need to step up as a leader. But ‘What is mine to do?’ 

Ko Papatūaānuku tena koe                Greetings to our earth mother
Ko te whare etu nei , tena koe           Greetings to this building
Ko ōku hoa mā, tēna koutou katoa  Greetings to all of you, my friends.

As I see it, First I need a super strong vision so as to gather in others to share a journey together. 

I’m tasked today to share details of my ‘leadership style’: that’s the ‘gathering others’ part.  To explain 3 ways I choose to show up as a leader, I’m going to use a superb model developed by David Emerald around relationships.  Healthy relationships he suggests can be viewed as a TED or Empowerment Dynamic Triange.  To explain three ways I choose to show up as a leader, I’ll be moving around the 3 vertices, being a CREATOR , being a CHALLENGER and being a COACH .

But first, my vision!  I hold to  2040 being the time when in my neighbourhood, my district and, (rather outside my current circle of influence as a leader) my world, we experience flourishing communities, flourishing ecosystems, flourishing children. We arrive at this flourishing because we humans put violence behind us. We eschew violence.

Tama tū, tama ora, tama noho, tama mate says the Māori whakatauki :
He who stands, lives; he who sits, perishes.

 ‘Anti-violence’ is the stand I take, and means I choose to reduce the violence of my actions on the world:
Its why I’ve shifted to a plant-based ‘vegan’ diet;
aspire to living zero waste going to landfill;
drive an electric car;
and it’s why I am studying Te Reo Māori, to understand more of how to truly be an ally and to address my own inbuilt institutional racism.

For the past 6 years I have been studying and practising ‘NVC’, non-violent communication, a way of  relating to others with respect, now practised by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.  Yet, “There are many people,” says Miki Kashtan, advocate for non-violent communication and global systems change, “Who are committed to non-violence in action, far fewer are committed in word, and way far fewer to non-violence in thought.”

While practicing non-violence in my own communication and thoughts towards others and myself remains a work in progress, as a leader I choose to show up as a CREATOR. I’m a believer in the need to ‘synergize’.  Was anyone else inspired years ago by  ‘the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people’?  SYNERGY is habit 6, the creative energy that appears when 2 or more people focus on a challenge, be it someone’s personal challenge or challenges the Council seems unable to resolve. It’s the fun energy in  ‘brainstorming’, in  ‘blue sky thinking.’

Seeking that creative energy is why I recently to turn down a role leading a local community organisation. “I believe 2 heads are better than one,” I told the committee, “lets create a co-leadership role,”  but they can’t yet see past a single leader ‘at the top’.  IYears back, when my husband died, I ended up running a sizeable business alone.  It’s a lonely place at the top, embedded in patriarchal concepts.  I don’t believe its how  human beings function best.  In our changing world, organisations need the synergy that comes not from ‘power over’ but from ‘power with’.

Getting the best out of others can also mean being a CHALLENGER : a person who calls forth growth in others.  Being a challenger means using my assertive energy to get needs met without punishing, to support others in becoming responsible and accountable.

Yesterday , I respectfully asked a lady, “Please don’t take this personally,” I said, “But I do worry about wildlife”’ I began. As I walked towards here I’d notice her stubbing out and leaving here cigarette behind, so I asked whether she was aware that seabirds feed cigarette butts to their chicks which ide of starvation. As I was speaking, she simply went back and picked it up. Her choice, no malice, job done. I spoke up, she listened.  It took courage on my part, and that’s where my commitment as a leader to my vision works for me.

And as a challenger, I value seeing people move closer to the edges of their courage… its precisely at that edge that I believe we find our calling.

 This weaves in to what 84 year old retiring Silver Ferns coach , Dame Lois Muir, said this week, ‘A coach helps people discover themselves.’  Part of being a leader is to be a COACH.  How do I support others be the best they can be, to bring forth their gifts and vulnerabilities, qualities to make the world work for all of us?

One choice I make as a coach is no longer to use praise and compliments.  Through my studies in NVC,  I see praise as a tool to  manipulate, to reward compliance and to perpetuate cultures of dominance, of judgment,  of ‘power over’ (watch this space for my next speech!)

As I lean into the role of leadership alongside others, new threads of understanding  weave in.  For now, I feel called to lead others into a flourishing 2040 by showing up as a CREATOR, A CHALLENGER and a COACH, standing firmly in the call to ‘anti-violence’.    I believe, in these challenging times, each one of us is called to respond in leadership in our own unique way to that question the universe puts to us, ” What is mine to do?“

(First presented as a speech to Topstart Toastmasters  Kerikeri  11 June 2020)

Resource Recovery : A Far North Vision

What follows is the vision of our ‘Far North Citizens Waste Minimisation Group’  and our request for support –  that I gave via FNDC Annual Plan hearing video link on 6 May 2020 – to our Far North District Mayor and Councillors.

Objectives FNCWMG May 2020I know that 4 pilot resource recovery projects will add hugely to this year’s Annual Plan. I’m going to explain why. But first, a story from the Solomon Islands:
 It is 2015 and I’m a volunteer management and accounting trainer who knows nothing more about rubbish than what I too can clearly see is gross – plastic floating out to sea.

“Jane, would you talk to our school about rubbish littering our coast?” Researching the topic before my first talk, I discover the enormity of the global waste crisis.  Here I am, being looked up to as an ‘expert’ asked for advice, the assumption being that back home where I live in ‘developed’ New Zealand, we have wastefulness sorted!

 It soon dawns on me that I’m preaching: I’m a case of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do!’
I return here to the Bay of Islands. I choose to complete a Masters researching Māori approaches to wastefulness and find ways to ‘walk the talk’ myself as a self-styled ‘Zero Waste Granny’.

Perhaps that longing to ‘walk the talk’ and reduce rubbish touches a chord in you too?  It’s certainly brought a group of us here in the Far North together over lockdown to give practical voice to our common deepfelt feeling that wastefulness isnt ok.  We aren’t looking for perfection, but seek that  :

90% of what can be composted in the Far North will be composted
 90% of what can be recycled will be recycled

FNDC’s current Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2017 – 2023 calls all of us to Waste nothing of value or use while working towards zero waste”   and
“Reduce the harmful effects of waste and improve the efficiency of resource use”

 The strategic business plan our Far North Waste Minimisation Group has drafted –  finding favour with local hapū and Pakeha alike –  honours these council goals by increasing resource recovery capacity 3 ways :

  • 15 Organic Farmlet enterprises collecting kitchen waste – small market gardening businesses solving a social issue
  • 10 more Community Recycling drop-off stations – access for everyone as easy as to supermarkets
  • 2 more full size Resource Recovery Centres – engaging in reuse, repair and repurposing

F N COMMUNITY WASTE DIVERSION INITIATIVE May 2020

But why insert pilot resource recovery projects into this year’s annual plan?
3 reasons:
1. Employment (1 tonne waste kept out of landfill is evidenced to create up to 10 jobs)
2.
Community resilienceAround NZ more than 30% of kitchen waste goes to landfill. Its madness to be wasting this!   5+ A Day means 5 lots of 80g that’s 400g of fresh produce. We can do this easily in our district. And urban farms build local food security, create hubs for social cohesion and add wellbeing into neighbourhoods. Moreover as my own recent Masters research evidenced, people feel better when they recycle, compost and stop being so wasteful. 
3.Climate change mitigation  – recycling food waste reduces carbon emissions, so does less trucking waste out of the district while improving the quality of soil enhances biodiversity which in turn removes carbon from air .

Things have changed with Covid19.   All  5 sectors of our Far North Economy …
i. Hapū
ii. Householders
iii. Those protecting and regenerating our common natural spaces and ecosystems on behalf of us all
iv. Businesses
v. Local & national government

…. are calling for regenerative recovery solutions.

This plan is excitingly simple, low cost, builds on tried and tested concepts and builds into the circular economy.

 Our growing network of practitioners around the Far North wants to see the district not only achieve the goals of the waste minimisation plan but for our district to be demonstrating leadership to other districts by dealing with food waste at a community level.

2 pilot farmlets* and 2 pilot community recycling stations can be operational by the end of this year.  A strategic business plan with costings is already drafted and 10 of us will meet again tomorrow night.  We want to open discussions with council urgently.

Not only will these resource recovery pilots provide jobs, Community-led resilience and mitigate climate change mitigation , our network’s vision IS Council’s vision!

As the Mayor himself stated in 2017, regarding Council’s target of reducing landfill waste from 320kg in 2016 to 200kg by 2023 :
“This is an ambitious goal, but a necessary one, if we are to become a more sustainable District.  We cannot keep building new landfills; they are expensive to operate, and harmful to the environment as there is potential ground water contamination and methane release to the atmosphere.  They are also a legacy our children and their children won’t thank us for leaving them.  We need to do better, and we can do better. 

Far North Flourishing kds

‘How Did We Get So Lucky Grandma’? Far North Holdings 2040

 “How did we get so lucky here in Tai Tokerau, Grandma?” a child in 2040 asks one of the community elders.  “It all started,’ she explains, “when five local groups came together after the Covid19 crisis…..Far North Flourishing kds
The Local Government Amendment Act 2019 gives Councils responsibility to ‘Promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and the future.’ 
FNHL protest bannerSo why does the Statement of Intent of our Council’s company Far North Holdings focus solely on financial outcomes? Surely our ratepayers’ company is best governed in the broad long-term interests of us all?
What follows is my reminder of this ‘oversight’  – via FNDC Annual Plan hearing video link on 6 May 2020 to our Far North District Mayor and Councillors.

The corporate arm of Wellington Council is entrusted to:
              “Exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when possible.”

I am going to explain why good governance by our own council calls for amendment throughout this year’s Annual Plan to reflect the responsibility to promote all 4 aspects of wellbeing.   But first,  a story …..
 It’s May 6th 2040 and our children, grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and their peers are celebrating! They are stakeholders within a flourishing and regenerative Far North district and revel in how no-one is left out. All residents have the means to access their preferred choices for fresh healthy locally-produced food, warm homes, safe communities and sports, learning and outdoor recreation opportunities. 

 “How did we get so lucky, Grandma?” a child asks one of the community elders.  “It all started,’ she explains, “when five groups identified within our local economy came together after the Covid19 crisis. It felt wierd at first, meeting online together. We representatives of hapu, of householders, of businesses, of ecosystems, and of local and national government met together regularly and realised in our hearts was a common goal:  to gear up for a future for you children to grow up in a flourishing and sustainable district where no-one would be left out.“

“Remember”, another kuia reminisces, “How we talked with that economist, Kate Raworth?   We came up with 2 questions:
 ‘How many benefits can we generate in how we design our Far North Economy? ‘ and  “How can we build in good along the way?“
“It all seemed too big a task eh?” The first elder continued. “But then we found we all agreed where we needed to start, with effective citizen-led governance for ‘Far North Holdings’, the business we all had a stake in, or rather we thought we did…..“

SEA CHANGE LOGO 3

 

I’m here to add to the voice for change to FNHL from fellow SEA CHANGE members.  I reiterate the need to reflect all 4 wellbeings, not simply one, in our council company’s ‘statement of intent’. FNHL is, or should be a ‘social enterprise’. Let me remind you again of the clause Wellington Council, who clearly understand the concept,  use in their Statement of Intent:
“Exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when possible.”

The 21st century corporate adventure means doing things differently.  There’s a clear shift from the old thinking of ’How much financial value can I extract?‘ to a new mindset: ‘How many benefits can we generate in the way we design the system?  / How can we do good along the way ?  / Is the organisation regenerative by design?’  

.Marjorie Kelly Owning our Future

Corporate analysist, Marjorie Kelly describes 5 criteria of a 21st century company:

  1. Purpose – what is the mission?   Is it ‘Increasing market share’ or a ‘safe and flourishing Far North’?
  2. Governance – what incentives do staff have ?  Are they around increased profits or are they around cutting water use, cutting carbon, and further wellbeing outcomes? 
  3. Networks  – do these align with others who share their values ?
  4. Ownership – who are the stakeholders –  how impactful is their voice?
  5. Finance  – where is the voice of finance situated? Is it ‘how much financial value can we extract from this’ or does finance add to the wider benefits that are generated by the organisation? 

Council’s responsibility is governance not management : it is to be the dog not to allow the tail to do the wagging!
It’s time to walk the talk of wellbeing. An informed understanding cannot come from metrics of dollars or numbers of jobs in the district. Wellbeing is when people are able to lead fulfilling lives with purpose, balance and meaning to them.  For wellbeing to arise post-Covid19, financial factors alone will never get us there.FNHL logo

21st century understanding recognises how wellbeing deends upon social, cultural and environmental factors alongside  financial aspects. Amending  Council systems, wordings and processes to reflect its mandated responsibility for ‘wellbeing’ is a no-brainer.  The simple task of updating Far North Holding’s statement of intent will  become a role model for Council’s mission to be a visionary collaborator with the other 4 elements of the formal and informal Far North Economy: Hapu, Householders, Guardians of the natural commons and Businesses.   If what we seek is a flourishing and sustainable Far North where each person finds purpose, balance and meaning with none left behind, will Council start the ball rolling and update FNHL and the Annual Plan on behalf of our children?

 

FN Economy Contributors 2020

Ocean Plastic: Choices for Cruising Yachties

(Pre-Covid19, this article was scheduled for publication in
Opua Yacht Club’s ‘Tell Tales’ : April 2020 issue.) 

The challenge of plastic in our oceans is confronting.  It’d be hard to find a beach anywhere in the world these days free of plastic flotsam so perhaps we as yachties can be part of the solution?  What if we set an example wherever we travel through a low-packaging lifestyle to lower our own impact?

in 2019 I joined my brother to cruise around northern Fiji and share the passage to New Zealand.  As a one-time yacht owner and offshore passage-maker I chose to chat with fellow cruisers about how they view their own ‘waste footprint’.  People expressed concern about the quantity of plastic waste they took ashore for disposal, yet seemed doubtful they could do things differently:

“There’s no choice when you are cruising, things need to be wrapped in plastic to make them last,” one explains.  Another well-travelled individual is certain that, “You can’t avoid buying bottled water, local water is not safe to drink,” while others seem certain, “We are not the problem, you should see what others do!”  

By 2030, it is predicted there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Globally, only 9% of plastic is recycled the rest is buried in the earth, burnt or blows, falls or is tipped into the sea. For small island Pacific states and nations favoured by cruisers, chances for effective recycling are even less than they are here in NZ. Dispersed populations, vast distances to recycling plants and lack of waste collection infrastructure exacerbate issues.   I see the choice as simple, ‘Do we yachtspeople continue to ignore and add to the problem or will we role model new behaviours for others to follow?’   But first, a story from my time in Fiji to remind us that the effect of our choices may be less clear than we think.

I’m standing in the shade at the start of a coastal walk through the Bouma National Park in Taveuni Island, western Fiji.  Two women from neighbouring yachts have joined us and are handing out plastic-packaged, plastic-sticked lollipops to small children from the village. The yachtswomen beam at each other delighted at the reception of their gifts. The little girls seem happy too, smiling shyly as they unwrap this unexpected treasure and drop the plastic wrappings to float away in the offshore breeze. 

Whose responsibility is that plastic packaging now in the ocean?

Refuse Reduce Reuse Rot Recycle Landfill

 

I am certain most cruising yachtpeople desire to be known as trustworthy voyagers who respect and care for ocean ecosystems in which so many others also live and play.  An easy first step is to reduce the waste created from an onboard lifestyle. The ‘Waste Hierarchy’ triangle’ (illustrated) provides a simple guide for yacht owners and crew looking for solutions to minimise waste.   The most preferable action is at the top of the inverted hierarchy triangle, ‘Refuse’, so that’s a good place to start…

 

10 items you may ‘choose to refuse’ on board

REFUSE Replace with Comments
Storekeeper’s offer of a plastic bag Your own fold-up bag Keep a fold-up shopping bag in your pocket/handbag for unexpected purchases
Fruit and vegetables in plastic bags Your own drawstring net bags Make your own out of recycled net curtains or buy a pack.

Using your own reusable bags role models making plastic bags obsolete.

Wrapped meat on plastic trays Ask where the local butcher is. Take your own reusable plastic bags/containers or ask for it to be wrapped in paper.
Tea bags Loose tea in a pot or individual tea infuser Most tea bags are glued together with plastic adhesive.

 

my teapot
Cleaning products in plastic spray bottles Bicarbonate of soda Sodium bicarbonate is a natural deodoriser and degreaser
Plastic clothes pegs Wooden clothes pegs If they do get blown overboard, they will biodegrade.
Plastic or paper straws Carry your own reusable one or just use your mouth!
To drop cigarette butts on the ground/ in the ocean Carry a portable ashtray, a small screw-top tin or jar. 95% of cigarette butts are a form of plastic. Commonly found in stomachs of seabirds, marine mammals & fish.
cigarette butts 2
To buy plastic-wrapped sweets, plastic pens, instant noodles as gifts Pencils, metal pencil sharpeners, metal water bottles, local foods in re-usable bags. Consider whether your gift is sustainable and what message it role models.
Plastic wrapping around store-bought purchases Leave the packaging at the store when buying new equipment or electronics Take the opportunity to ask the store to request their suppliers switch to packaging-free or eco-friendly packaging

 

In this global world, what we do today on our own boat impacts fellow humans (including those yet unborn) and other species.  Years back a wise elder explained to me how, “we have 4 needs: ‘to Live, to Learn, to Love and to leave a Legacy. ‘”  If you die in a year’s time, how do you want to be remembered by others? As an indifferent abuser of  ocean ecosystems, who met your own needs at the expense of your peers? Or as someone who role modelled a low-impact low-waste lifestyle that many others saw and copied ?

Jane Banfield is a Paihia grandmother with a passion for the ocean.  Her first introduction to yachting was to marry the Kiwi yachtsman who 35 years ago happened upon the remote island school in Vanuatu where she was a volunteer teacher.  A keen kayaker, sailor and almost-daily swimmer, Jane is a self-styled ‘zero waste granny’ who has chosen a low impact packaging-free lifestyle and supports others in the Bay of Islands to do the same.              zerowastegranny@gmail.com

Universal Basic Income – get the facts right

Dear Editor (letter to New Zealand Herald 1 May 2020)

While Mathew Hooten’s recent article purports to be an overview of the concept of Universal Basic Income, it is factually incorrect.  These untruths distort the picture and devalue the concept.

 

Hooten’s statement that UBI ‘ would need to be set somewhere just below the current dole’  misleads the public, making it appear that this is a merit-worthy agreed evidence-based calculation. It is nothing of the sort.   On the contrary, the base level for UBI is a current topic of political debate.

 

Furthermore relating it to the word ‘dole’ with the associations that raises is a manipulative attempt to have the public believe there is an issue related to incentives to work.  On the contrary, unlike our current ‘dole’ which is reduced if someone gets a job, the whole point of a UBI is that everyone gets to keep it even if they earn income: there is no disincentive to work.  The concept of UBI also eliminates stigma during the times of job losses and retraining that are an inevitable part of our future, ensures nobody falls through the cracks, it honours unpaid work such as that of carers and parents.

 

Moreover, to state that Friedrich Hayek, co-founder of the neoliberal political model, which has led to the massive rise of inequality around the world over the past 30 years, proposed and supported the UBI concept is patently untrue!  For Hayek, “some provision for those threatened by the extremes of indigence or starvation due to circumstances beyond their control” was required ‘be it only in the interest of those who require protection against acts of desperation on the part of the needy.’  This is so far from the concept of UBI that Hooten’s statement of Hayek as a ‘prophet’ for UBI is laughable.   Conversely, a universal basic income is the opportunity to begin to reset the havoc that the adoption of Hayek’s theories have wreaked on our social, cultural and environmental wellbeing here in New Zealand.

 

I expect the NZ Herald to take up its responsibility to put these factual inaccuracies straight.4836

WHY WE NEED SINGLE TRANSFERABLE VOTES!

By September this year, the Far North District council must decide between 2 alternative processes for the next local government elections in 2022.

Do they vote to keep the status quo, the current First-Past-the-Post electoral ‘race’ or follow the lead of 11 progressive councils last year, and adopt the ‘Single-Transferable-Vote system?

‘STV’  stands  for  ‘Simple To Vote’!  It’s a fairer more democratic system where every vote for councillors, community board members and for the mayor counts.

Families-of-voting-systems-800x531

As Professor Priya Kurian, Political Science and Public Policy lecturer at University of Waikato, points out,  “STV’s ability to better reflect the will of the entire voting population means it’s more likely to produce councils that look like the communities they represent.” [1]  Locals I speak with see a change to STV as well overdue.  It’s common knowledge that in last year’s elections, our current mayor received only 29% of the vote while some elected councillors and community board members ‘won’ only 10 or 11% of the vote.  The votes of the majority of citizens were wasted.TEMPLATE PAGE

Local government is a two-way relationship. We elect our local government leaders to go into battle on issues that matter to us.  Having a more diverse council will lessen the risk of them offending citizens by not understanding their needs and perspectives.   Citizens need to be able to identify with the members of Council and their local Community Board to maintain trust that elected members ‘have got their back.

The system only works well when we trust council and community board leaders to meet our needs and they can trust us to support them.   For our Council whose services are spread thinly over a vast area, support and collaboration with the general public is essential.

Take the current uproar in communities across the Far North about the actions of Far North Holdings Limited!  Furious local citizens of Russell, Opua, and Rangitane view the lack of transparency and consultation over wide-sweeping actions of FNHL as well outside the council mandate they expect.  An apparent disregard for the council’s legislated responsibility to ‘promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and the future’ [2] has grown into distrust of the local community board and our district council and a polarised ‘us v them’ approach.

We know STV is more representative, but will council members be willing to change the system that elected them?  If ego and complacency in the current system prevents councillors from supporting a change from FPP, a request for a district-wide poll is expected from Far North residents.  Its an expensive and labour-intensive option.  Why go to all that expense when it simply needs Council members to pass the resolution in favour of STV?stv flow chart

Author, Jane Banfield is a long-term resident of Paihia, a grandmother and a volunteer in the SEA CHANGE movement (www.seachange.kiwi), set up last year to see transformation within Far North local government to address local climate, environmental and community issues.    In February 2020, Jane and fellow SEA CHANGE volunteer, Andrew Riddell spoke at the  public FNDC meeting to point out the many benefits of a shift to STV. 

[1] Professor Priya Kurian, Political Science and Public Policy lecturer at University of Waikato https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/opinion/115706549/diversity-key-to-responsive-local-government

[2] 2019 Amendment: Local Government Act

 Post-Covid 19 :‘REPLAY’ or ‘RESET’ ?

 

Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei

( From a speech first prepared for Toastmasters meeting online 2 April 2020).  

Perhaps like many of you, I’ve been thinking this week of what New Zealand could look like post-lockdown.   I’m sure we all heard the British Prime Minister talking about ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ but this week its Sir Keir Starmer, newly elected UK Labour Party leader, that echoes my thoughts:
“When we do get through this, we cannot go back to business as usual, this virus has exposed the fragility of our society…. We know in our hearts, things are going to have to change. …we can see so clearly now who the key workers really are… for too long they have been taken for granted…” 

I’m want to share 3 areas this morning ripe for change: our taxes, the structure of business itself, and the way we work; and also why as a Baby Boomer I have an important role to play.  But first, a story…

A decade ago I meet 2 elderly women acquaintances outside New World. “We’re off to China on a ‘SKI’ holiday’.
“Skiing?” I enquire.
Spending the Kid’s inheritance,” they reply gleefully!

It’s the first time I heard that acronym , ‘SKI’ for ‘Spending the Kid’s Inheritance’ and I’m shocked !  Yet it wasn’t long before I realised that although I thought differently about my own family assets, my own lifestyle was ‘SKI’.  Along with my peers,  haven’t I been a role model for pushing the earth way past its regenerative limits? I may have personally advocated for reduction of rubbish and the protection of nature, but what we baby boomers had set in motion and i was clearly still part of seemed set on a roll to destruction whether I liked it or not.

the SKI world

The progressive economist Kate Raworth, author of ‘Doughnut Economics’ is clear how economies need to function – as a ‘safe and just operating space for all of humanity’. When my first grandchild, Harry was born 6 years ago, that safe and just operating space for all humanity was not apparent across my district, let alone my nation and the globe. Yet I felt so powerless.

Now though, the ‘Pause Button’ has been pressed on that pre-lockdown life: the question is, ‘What happens when the pause button comes off?’

 

11-110355_play-break-button-play-button-player-pause-button

I seem to have two choices:

I can press ‘Replay’ and encourage the return to how things were, knowing my years are short and it won’t be me that takes the biggest hit.

Or…

I can join others who choose to press ‘Reset’ and use my lifetime of experience and connections to support systemic change in my neighbourhood, my district and nationally.   This may come at a cost to my dreamed of retirement lifestyle but I’m with progressive thinker, Charles Eisenstein: out there is ‘The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible’.    the more beautiful world

The first change I support is taxes. Its becoming ever clearer what a vast hole this pandemic has dug in the government’s books, but more borrowing – as i know from personal experience – just makes it harder down track and will create restrictive austerity measures for my children, grandchildren and their peers.   No, we must raise taxes and the burden must fall on those who can most afford it, those with bigger incomes and those with more assets.

The top income tax rate is 45% in the UK and Australia, and in Sweden, the top marginal tax rate of 56.9 percent applies to all income over 1.5 times the average. Its time to raise the top rate in NZ – its only 33%.

And NZ is one of few developed countries with no wealth tax.  Gareth Morgan proposed a comprehensive Capital Income Tax in 2016, similar to that in the Netherlands and South Korea.  I own rental property so this tax on assets is not in my favour. But if it creates a less divided society for my grandsons and their peers, that’s more important at this stage.

Its time to reframe business too.  Kate Raworth’s ‘safe and just operating space for all humanity’ means we need to tweak company law to uphold Stakeholder legislation. Its not just shareholders that directors need to be accountable to, its ALL stakeholders. That means directors being answerable to communities, employees, and to human guardians providing a voice both for the natural world and for children yet unborn.

social enterprisesAnd businesses-with-a- mission, Social Enterprises such as Eat my Lunch need better support.  This model where an entrepreneur earns a good salary but retains his soul by using residual profit for social or environmental good, must be encouraged in NZ. Like   in the UK, Canada and France, New Zealand needs to provide a separate supoportive legal structure.

And while an ‘Unconditional Basic Income’ for all adults, once seemed like a pipe dream of ‘lefties’ around the world ( and in NZ another wacky idea of the ‘cat man, Gareth Morgan), this week 40% of Kiwis are receiving something very similar – ‘wage subsidies’. Even right-wing governments such as Australia, the UK and the US are doing the same!  At what stage did we lose the realisation that we all contribute to sustaining our society? A home-based caregiver  looking after their elderly parent, a flax weaver, a mother home-schooling her child, which of these lacks importance?  Understanding who have greatest worth in society needs another look as we learn of poorly-paid bus drivers and care workers losing their lives in service to the rest of us.  The judgement on who merits a basic income can no longer be a special longevity award for superannuitants: its not just us that are special!

Finally, looking out for today’s children means their parents need to find meaning and dignity in work but balance that with time for family and their community too.  Surely it’s a no-brainer to reset the workforce with a ban on non-essential Sunday trading and legislate for a 4-day working week? 

baby boomers

As a Baby Boomer, I’ve had a good innings.  To keep the cricket analogy, now is no time for an umpire role or a seat on the sidelines. Pre-lockdown I may have been part of a ‘SKI’ generation’, but a ‘Replay’ is not an option.    It’s time to use my amassed lifetime experience and connections to seek out friends, local leaders, national politicians. No doubt increased taxes, tighter company law and changes to the working week will get pushback – for some the pre-lockdown tatus quo was seriously comfortable.  So while as a Baby Boomer, I may have had a good innings, the need for a ‘reset’ calls me to head back out onto the pitch.

 

                                                   He waka eke noa.