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Category Archives: New Zealand

Lessons from New Zealand’s good book; the Yellow Pages –

Posted: October 7, 2021 at 3:35 pm


The new Wellington Yellow Pages has listings from 18,000 local businesses. You can also use the book to shore up the wobbly table.

OPINION: Every few days I do a sad trip out the door, down the path, and to the letterbox.

Its sad because theres never anything nice in the letterbox. At best theres a flier from someone wanting to save my soul; at worst a white envelope addressed to someone also named Virginia Fallon, though I never open those. They dont look friendly.

Last week was different. There, on top of the box, was that brightly coloured harbinger of spring: the Yellow Pages. It used to arrive at the doorstep, where the only better find could be a wrongly-delivered Uber Eats or Hello Fresh, but I care not where its delivered, Im just happy its here.

It reminds me of good things, and we can always do with a bit of that.

READ MORE:* Adding the love factor as phone directory provider Yellow shifts to digital focus* It's Conservation Week, so let's get rid of the Yellow Pages* Yellow directory business to attempt reboot

These days the arrival of the Yellow Pages is usually accompanied by criticism of its place in modern life, and especially its impact on the environment.

Yellow NZ distributes 2 million books nationwide, featuring listings from 154,000 businesses; nationally the book represents 1.2 per cent of total paper usage each year, a number that pales into comparison with the 80 per cent of paper usage currently occupying our bathroom cupboards as stockpiled loo roll.

Stacy Squires/Stuff

Nationally, the book represents 1.2 per cent of total paper usage each year.

And anyway, the books are made from forestry by-products, and are completely recyclable not that any of that mattered in the 80s where my enduring love of the good book began.

Those were the days when the Yellow Pages were massive at least six inches thick and your whole town was listed between those sunny covers. As much as I like to tell younger people how outdoorsy and independent my generation was, the truth is we were bored stupid and the Big Yellow provided much-needed entertainment.

Youd see all sorts of things as you flicked through to find numbers for the video shop, radio station, or movie theatre. (Dont pretend you didnt know the chip shop number by heart.) There were maps youd rip out to take on your bike rides, and even area codes for far-flung places like Auckland that seemed so exotic to small-town kids.

There was also plenty of salacious information in there too, and my group of friends spent many an afternoon leering and wondering over the adult listings. I once called an 0900 number to learn how to seduce a woman, but as my mum was unaware of my sapphic tendencies, my brother copped the blame.

Currently, my copy of the Yellow Pages sits on top of the microwave where it will stay until the next one arrives. It serves no purpose but neither does the cat and I still keep him about.

The good book is needed by plenty of people who let their fingers do the walking, but even for those of us who dont, its a nice thing to have something from the days when things were simpler and, yeah, happier.

Anyway, there's plenty of things you can do with the Yellow Pages. You can use them to prop open the door of the cupboard the cat likes to sleep in, or shore up a couch leg (rip them in half). You can use them to sit your laptop on, so nobody sees your chins on Zoom, or crush walnuts with. You can press a flower, start a fire, or write bad poetry in the blank spaces around the ads.

Or you can just keep them around because they remind you of being a kid looking up the number to beg the radio station to play your song.

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Wales v New Zealand fixture under the microscope as it’s branded ‘stupidest game ever’ – Wales Online

Posted: at 3:35 pm

Wales annual out-of-window autumn international has long been a problematic and contentious event.

Year after year, it has been the same story.

The WRU arrange a fourth match against one of the south hemisphere big three - New Zealand, Australia or the Springboks - on a date outside the official November dates sanctioned by World Rugby.

And every year the same issues arise in terms of player availability.

Read more: For the latest headlines and big news, stop by our home of Welsh rugby

As the match is not covered by Reg 9, teams outside of Wales dont have to release their players for it.

The policy of PRL - the umbrella organisation for the English Premiership clubs - has been pretty consistent on the matter.

They dont allow their clubs to release players to other countries for out-of-window Tests.

In fact, back in 2013, they actually fined Northampton 60,000 for doing so in the case of Wales George North, firmly laying down the law.

This policy has seen some people criticise the Premiership clubs for denying players the chance to play international rugby.

But the rationale is quite simple.

The RFU pays the clubs for access to England players above and beyond the requirements of Reg 9.

If they were to release them to other countries for free, how could they justify continuing to charge their own Union?

The WRU, for their part, have never been willing to pay for additional access to English exiles, so the cycle has continued and here we are again.

On October 30, Wales will open their autumn international campaign against New Zealand at the Principality Stadium.

Thats the out-of-window game this year and once more that means no England-based players are available to coach Wayne Pivac.

So he will have to do without the likes of Dan Biggar, Louis Rees-Zammit, Taulupe Faletau, Callum Sheedy, Nick Tompkins and Ioan Lloyd.

That presents a particular issue at No 10, with Biggar and Sheedy being the two first-choice fly-halves.

But, this year, the situation has been further compounded by an ever mounting injury list. You can see all the details and what the Wales team is now likely to look like here..

North, Justin Tipuric, Leigh Halfpenny, Dan Lydiate, James Botham, Rhys Patchell, Josh Macleod and James Davies are all out of the equation, while there is a major doubt over Liam Williams, with Jarrod Evans also facing a race against time.

It means Pivac is set to be without an entire team of players and something like half a dozen nailed-on starters.

Clearly thats not ideal when you are taking on the mighty All Blacks.

As the absentee list has grown, so have the mutterings of discontent over Wales going into a game of this magnitude with such a depleted side.

What were the Union thinking of? has been the general theme.

Now the issue has been addressed by Daily Telegraph sports writer James Corrigan, who has penned a coruscating attack on the WRU.

In his article, he describes it as the stupidest fixture ever and offensive to fans who have paid out up to 95 for tickets for this sold-out fixture.

He writes: Some accountant genuinely thought it acceptable to play the worlds best team while knowing Wayne Pivac will be without some of his most notable players. And what is yet more scandalous is that those on top agreed.

He goes on to accuse the WRU of actively making it harder for its side to achieve a feat they find impossible anyway.

Welshman Corrigan continues: The Kiwis are the scalp we crave. They should not be first up, in the unofficial slot. It demeans the occasion, which is a crying shame because it is difficult to quantify what it could mean to the country.

The All Blacks will show up, the stadium will be packed and the tills will ring to the strains of Bread of Heaven.

A few debts will be paid and so the farce continues. Yet for how long and to what purpose? Keep prioritising the bottom line over the try line and Welsh rugby will soon be bankrupt regardless.

Strong words indeed.

There is also the impact on our pro teams.

With the autumn campaign beginning on October 30, players will be in camp with Wales the previous weekend, so will miss a round of United Rugby Championship matches.

As a result, the Ospreys and Scarlets will be significantly depleted when they take on full-strength Munster and Benetton sides respectively, while the biggest bone of contention is that the derby between Cardiff and the Dragons at the Arms Park will now go ahead with a host of star names missing.

One of the biggest fixtures of the season will be devalued and undermined, much to the anger of the two sets of fans.

So why do the WRU keep on arranging games outside of the window given all the problems it creates?

Well, there has been a desire to play the top teams as often as possible, something Warren Gatland was very keen on from a rugby perspective.

But, more than anything, it comes down to money.

The New Zealand game is a sell-out, with all 74,500 tickets having been snapped up.

So just how much cash will that bring in, with TV revenue and all the food and drink sales on top?

I spoke to a trusted source on Union matters for an idea of what we are talking and also what the thinking has been over the years with regard to the fourth autumn Test.

A game like this would bring in between 3m and 4m in clear profit, he estimated.

Thats from one day.

You think what you would have to do to make that kind of money by some other means? You would have to have a lot of Ed Sheeran concerts!

On the attitude of the four pro teams to the out-of-window fixture, he said: To be honest, nobody at the regions has ever pushed back on it.

It was a non topic really.

It never came up because people knew how material it was to the whole financial model.

If you could make the numbers work and play one game less, then you would do it, all day long.

But, at the moment, you cant balance the books without it.

The reason the regions dont push back on it is the profit goes straight to them. It is as simple as that.

It doesnt impact the Union if the game isnt played. It just means the regions get 3m less.

As for the question of paying the Premiership clubs for player release, that was discounted as it was seen as opening Pandora's box and undermining the domestic game, as players may be less likely to stay in Wales if they knew they could be available for all international matches while being based in England.

Win free tickets to watch Wales v New Zealand

You can also enter our competition for free tickets here.

It would be unwise to call a game against New Zealand a necessary evil as there are a lot of people really looking forward to the occasion, despite the number of Wales players that will be missing.

But it is fair to say that the annual out-of-window Test is a necessity under the current financial model and more so than ever this year following the huge impact of Covid on income streams.

People have asked why start the autumn campaign against the All Blacks when we know a number of top Wales players will be absent then.

Well, that out-of-window weekend is the only date the Kiwis were available, so it was either then or not at all.

If the Union had opted for not at all, you would be looking at a massive dip in income at a time when the pro game is so desperately in need of additional cash.

Now there is a valid argument that the whole financial model needs reappraising and reconsidering.

At present, the focus is firmly on international rugby as the primary source of income generation.

You could make a case for that already being a saturated market and that the club game is the potential growth area.

On that point, increasing income from domestic rugby is, of course, made that much more difficult when star players miss league matches due to international commitments, thereby devaluing the competition as a product.

So theres a bit of a chicken and egg situation going on.

Its also worth noting that Wales were not the only country to organise out-of-window Tests for October 30.

Scotland are hosting Tonga on that date, while Ireland were due to play the USA in Nevada, prior to that game being cancelled due to ongoing border restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In summary, pro sport costs money, big money, and it has to be paid for somehow.

So, until there is a pretty seismic shift in emphasis in terms of attitudes towards income generation, the fourth autumn Test looks as though it is here to stay.

For the latest breaking news, interviews and headlines in Wales, you can sign up to our newsletters to get the biggest stories delivered straight to your inbox.

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Covid: New Zealand reports jump in cases as opposition calls for opening up – The Guardian

Posted: October 5, 2021 at 4:32 am

New Zealands daily Covid cases have jumped sharply to 45 more than five times the previous days number. The rise comes after several days of about 12 cases a day, and around a week after the Auckland region lifted its strictest lockdown restrictions.

This is a big number. Its a sobering number. I dont think anybody whos involved in this process would be celebrating a number like the one were seeing today, said the Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins.

But the fact that such a significant proportion of those are known contacts or household contacts does point a little bit to the nature of this particular outbreak that were now dealing with in the way its concentrated in larger households.

The director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said a number of the cases had been expected by health officials much of Aucklands outbreak is spreading through large family groups. Thirty-three of the new cases were known household or close contacts of existing cases. Of these, 26 were household contacts, and 12 came from two households. Twelve cases were unlinked.

Officials urged people to continue following level 3 rules and get tested. Weve still got to hold our nerve here, Hipkins said. Were still aiming to run this into the ground.

The government lifted some restrictions in Auckland last week after a month of lockdown, in what experts called a gamble and a calculated risk. The changes saw an estimated 300,000 additional people return to work in their city workplaces.

Bloomfield said: Some of our cases today may have been working in essential or permitted businesses this emphasises the importance of everyone in Auckland continuing to abide by level 3 measures. They are there for a reason. Asked if New Zealand would have seen this number of cases under level 4, Hipkins said possibly.

The leap in cases comes as the government faces its first major challenge from opposition parties on the elimination strategy.

New Zealands largest opposition party unveiled its Covid plan on Wednesday, which would see lockdowns permanently scrapped once 70-75% of the eligible population is vaccinated, and quarantine-free travel allowed at 85% for those who are fully vaccinated.

The National partys leader, Judith Collins, said elimination had worked while vaccines were under development, but now the plan must change. If adopted, Nationals plan means Kiwis overseas could come home to spend this Christmas with loved ones or take an overseas holiday for new years, Collins said.

Collins said the prime minister had not offered a specific vaccine target while ministers throw around numbers willy-nilly. She also took aim at the governments proposed trial that would allow 150 business people to return and isolate at home before Christmas: Its an insult.

The National party says its three-pillar plan has been thoroughly vetted by experts, but it has declined to publicly name those experts.

The first pillar of the plan includes 10 steps for supercharging vaccination rates, going door-to-door to reach vulnerable communities, and boosting testing measures and health service capacity. The second pillar aims to end lockdowns, once vaccination reaches 70-75%.

Nationals Covid-19 response spokesperson, Chris Bishop, said the third pillar was about reconnecting New Zealand back to the world, with a system that would create different isolation requirements for returnees, depending on the country of origins Covid-19 status.

Just prior to the Delta outbreak, the government announced its border reopening strategy, which also takes into account the risk level of the countries people are returning from. That plan is under review after the outbreak.

Meanwhile thousands of New Zealanders overseas are struggling to book a spot in managed isolation. On Tuesday 3,800 places were released and snapped up in seconds, leaving tens of thousands of others on hold for the next round, due in the coming weeks.

Bishop said the government was running a lottery in human misery every week, adding that the party was advocating for a vigorous suppression method, over elimination, to allow people to return.

Deltas here, its gonna come back, there will be Covid in the community and we need to reopen, whilst making sure we mitigate the impacts of Covid and have a low number of cases.

Hipkins said he had not looked at Nationals plan in detail but it was clear the party wants to throw open the borders and allow hundreds of thousands of people to come into the country. Therefore one can conclude that the biggest promise they are making at the moment is they are willing for Kiwis to get Covid for Christmas.

Hipkins said the party had not provided any modelling for the number of cases it would be willing to tolerate, nor what it would do if there were significant case numbers in the community.

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New Zealand: The struggle to find a decent home – Al Jazeera English

Posted: at 4:32 am

Wellington, New Zealand Tougher rules for property investors and speculators came into force this month in New Zealand, as part of a government effort to tackle the countrys worsening housing crisis.

Under the new law, property investors will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest from their taxable incomes

The government is trying to focus on re-establishing housings primary role as a home rather than a financial asset and address the countrys housing shortage, soaring property prices, and homelessness.

The move follows a rise in house values of 145 percent during the past 10 years, according to Real Estate Institute New Zealand. Rental rates have also risen by 37 percent in the last 10 years, according to Statistics New Zealand.

As of 2018, 42,000 people in the country were living without shelter, or in temporary or shared accommodation and Ministry of Social Development figures suggest more than 23,000 people are on the public housing register.

The dire situation has already attracted the interest of the Human Rights Commission, which in August announced plans to conduct a national inquiry into housing.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says over the last 50 years successive governments have failed the New Zealand public.

In the 1970s there was a Royal Commission of inquiry into housing, which led to the creation of a national housing council that was disbanded just 10 years later.

Looking back this was an important body that had oversight of the growing problem, he said. We took the eye off the ball and left everything to market forces.

The Human Rights Commission doesnt favour a public or private approach thats for the government of the day to decide, but whatever approach is chosen it must deliver and in recent years theres no doubt whatsoever it has failed.

Traditionally, New Zealand has been active in drafting international human rights law including the right to a decent home but it has not been so good at bringing those rights back home, he says.

These treaties have been ratified, so theyre legally binding but somehow theres an attack of amnesia when politicians and officials fly back home over the Pacific, he said.

The right to enjoy a safe, secure, decent home is critically important for wellbeing. Without a decent home, its very difficult for people to be active members of society.

Al Jazeera spoke to some New Zealanders about their experience of finding a home.

Jim* was living on the streets of Wellington, New Zealands capital when Al Jazeera spoke to him. He had been homeless for more than two weeks but was hoping to move in with family in another part of the country.

Jim has been on sickness benefit since he was hit in the back of the head with an axe five years ago, he says. He does not remember the circumstances leading up to the accident other than waking up in a hospital where he was told he was lucky to be alive.

He has been in and out of public housing since the accident, but securing permanent financial help has proved difficult because his head injury means he will never be able to work.

Jim found himself without a roof over his head after a stint in a halfway house came to an end.

It was his first time on the streets, but he said people tended to be helpful providing food, daily showers, and the homeless community had been welcoming.

You really just want to be left alone and not harassed. Im taking it day by day. Ive got good shoes, a blanket, and Im as comfortable as I can be.

Engineer Benjamin Duyvesteyn, 25, moved to Raglan on New Zealands North Island for a two-year stint but in April 2020 when his relationship with his brother deteriorated, he moved into a tent.

Working a number of odd jobs and with no rooms available in Raglan, he says, it made more sense to live in a campground for 15 New Zealand dollars ($10.40) a night than to move to Auckland, the countrys biggest city, and pay between 200 and 250 New Zealand dollars ($138.65 and $173.33) a week to live in what he describes as a shoebox.

Duyvesteyn ended up living under canvas for 10 months.

It wasnt great. Ive definitely had better times in my life, he told Al Jazeera. The campground didnt have any washing equipment or hot water. It was freezing over winter. I would use a laundromat in town to wash my clothes. Id use a battery pack to charge my phone. If it rained I wouldnt be able to get dry before going to bed.

There were rats the size of cats. Once I found a rat inside my tent so thats why I would basically live out of the supermarket and buy each meal each day. But it was something I had to do. I was working full time so it meant I saved a bit of money.

Duyvesteyn moved in with friends in early 2021.

Kelly-Jayne Ferry and her two daughters had been living in the Mount Victoria area of Wellington, the capital, for three years when their property manager gave them 42 days notice that the lease would not be renewed.

Im very sad to leave our home, Ferry told Al Jazeera. After renting for so many years Im left with this constant lingering fear at the back of my mind that we might have to move again soon, which has meant Ive never really invested in making a place nice.

The search for a new place that is suitable, affordable, and close to the girls school has been sobering, she says.

The lack of cohesion between pricing and quality has blown me away, Ferry told Al Jazeera. Its depressing. You may view a house where the paint is peeling, the walls are filthy, and nothings been done to it for 50 years, and with little sunlight. And then you view a place thats a beautiful ocean view apartment and its the same price. Wheres the line, and how does that work?

Ferry found few properties available and that what was on offer was generally designed for young professionals who were able to pay up to 300 New Zealand dollars ($208.89) per week for a room in a house or tiny apartment.

Landlords will often push the limits of what they can get away with, Ferry says.

I really feel sorry for people who dont know what the law is, or if they dont have the confidence to speak up. But even if you do speak up, theres always the chance youll jeopardise your wellbeing and the safety of having a home because in challenging them youve given them a reason to kick you out, she said.

Ferrys move was delayed as a result of COVID-19, but she and her children have now found a warm and dry house in Roseneath, a suburb of Wellington.

So life is good, until next time we have to move!

Freelance video editor Rachel Lydia Barker, 26, has spent her adult life renting flats or houses, but as a result of COVID-19 she is now living with her parents in Wellington.

Barker is from a middle-class, reasonably wealthy background.

She inherited some money from her grandparents, and her parents have been saving since she was born, but despite having a huge amount of help, the cost of living relative to house prices means she cannot afford to buy a house in the city.

Barker says it would be cheaper to service a mortgage than to rent, but there is no way she will be able to save enough money for a deposit. Of course Id prefer to pay off a mortgage than be paying the same amount in rent with the possibility of being displaced at any point.

She is planning on going to Australia to join her sister, who has just bought an apartment in Melbourne. Barkers sister realised she would earn substantially more abroad and after two-and-a-half years, in addition, to help from her family, she secured a deposit.

My parents are pretty heartbroken. Theyre English and decided to move to New Zealand for a better quality of life. I was eight at the time and New Zealand used to be a haven. It still is in many ways but the cost of living is increasingly similar if not more than cities such as New York or London and without some of the perks those cities have to offer.

Nigel Mander, a former professional clown in his sixties, has been renting since his mother passed away 12 years ago.

After travelling the world, he moved into a derelict shop and lived there for five years. I didnt publicise it too much as I didnt want to get offside with the [municipality]. There was wiring and water damage, the roof leaked, but it was cheap and it worked until the owner chucked me out.

Ever since Mander has led a transitory life moving from house to house at the mercy of various landlords and friends, but he says he has no regrets.

My living situation hasnt been very stable and its left me with underlying feelings of insecurity but I dont let it get me down. I tend to throw caution to the wind and I press on regardless. Ive never been much of a saver and Ive travelled extensively.

We need to change peoples attitudes around housing. It shouldnt be about owning your own castle or having properties as investments, but rather if youve got a spare room or a spare house, there might be people and lonely people who could use the company who would be grateful for the accommodation. The community aspect is lacking, I think.

There are certainly enough houses to go around, but when greed comes into play, where people decide to own 20 houses or to keep them empty because its less hassle than renting them out, thats what I have a problem with.

Writer Murdoch Stephens, 40, has been living in rented accomodation since he was 18.

In the spring of 2019, he was sharing a flat n Mount Victoria one of Wellingtons wealthier suburbs with five others when the area made headlines after being infested with monster rats.

At the time he was having challenges with the flat rent had increased by 18 percent and there were infrastructural issues, but he could not get in touch with the landlord. It became a joke that perhaps the landlord was a giant rat living in the garden, which became the premise for his book, Rat King Landlord.

What we dont talk about are the subtle consequences of the housing crisis; people staying in relationships that they shouldnt for fear of changing their living situation, or fragmented communities because people are shuttling from suburb to suburb, for example.

As a writer, you dont make much money at the best of times, but I particularly worry about younger people who increasingly dont have the opportunity to pursue creative careers because the cost of living means its not an option.

Stephens is not interested in disparaing landlords, politicians, or personalising the issue. The housing problem is structural and will take a paradigm shift in thinking to fix, he says.

Everyone is short-changed in this environment. We dont have the language to change it or any language that articulates a collective response.

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Australia and New Zealand ruling elite demands population live with COVID-19 – WSWS

Posted: at 4:32 am

Experiences in the Asia-Pacific are demonstrating that the eradication of COVID depends on the development of an independent movement of the international working class, fighting for a scientific program that prioritises health and safety, not capitalist profit. With extraordinary rapidity, countries held up as pandemic success stories are dispensing with earlier safety measures and adopting the let it rip policies that have created a disaster internationally.

In Australia, where the virus has repeatedly been eliminated, governments are rushing to reopen the economy amid the countrys worst COVID outbreak.

In New Zealand, one of the few countries to have pursued an eradication strategy throughout the pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that her government would be transitioning to a new way of doing things, based on the fact that the Delta variant is a game-changer.

The New York Times, speaking on behalf of the Wall Street banks and corporations, immediately reported the announcement, declaring that: For a year and a half, New Zealand has pursued a strategy of Covid zero, closing its borders and quickly enforcing lockdowns to keep the coronavirus in check, a policy it maintained even as other Asia-Pacific countries transitioned to coexisting with the viral threat. On Monday, New Zealand gave in.

This was part of a broader shift, the Times noted, referencing the drive to end lockdowns in Australia, and the situation in Singapore, where an end to a government strategy of suppressing the virus has resulted in a major outbreak. The change in strategy by Singapore and other countries in the region has left China as perhaps the last major country to pursue a Covid-zero approach, it declared.

With a clear air of triumphalism, the Times was championing the fact that those countries were adopting the same profit-driven policies that have resulted in mass infection and death around the world.

Infections have soared in Britain since all mitigation efforts were dispensed with on freedom day last July, with current fatality rates matching Prime Minister Boris Johnsons declaration that 50,000 annual deaths from the virus would be acceptable. In the US, thousands of people are dying every few days, while hospital paediatric units are being overwhelmed as 200,000 or more children are infected each week, many of them having contracted the virus in schools that are functioning as lethal petri dishes.

Case numbers vary in the Asia-Pacific countries that have recently shifted their policy. In Australia and Singapore there are thousands of active infections, in New Zealand, only several hundred. The trajectory, however, once the live with the virus policy has been adopted is the same: mass transmission, hospitalisations and fatalities.

This has already been demonstrated by developments in Australia. The countrys governments never sought eradication, rejecting it in the earliest stages of the pandemic as being too costly. Nevertheless, over the past 18 months, they have repeatedly been compelled to institute lockdowns and other safety restrictions.

This has largely been a result of demands from teachers, health staff and other sections of the working class, and because the underfunded hospital system is in such a parlous position that it cannot cope with even a limited COVID outbreak. The country was also insulated to a certain extent by its geographical isolation and stringent border restrictions. Transmission of the virus was repeatedly eliminated, as millions of working people adhered to social distancing and made sacrifices to ensure public health.

Within a very short period of time, the situation has been reversed. The country went from having no cases of community transmission in early June, to more than 84,000 in the three-and-a-half months since, along with 447 deaths. More than a quarter of all fatalities since the pandemic began have occurred since the end of August.

The surge has been the outcome of governments, especially in the state of New South Wales (NSW), resisting calls from epidemiologists for timely lockdowns, instead preparing for a reopening. Even once restrictions were imposed, most workplaces remained open, leading to infections and deaths being concentrated in the working class suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

In previous outbreaks, governments have stated that it is not safe to end lockdowns before community transmission is reduced to zero or close to it. Now, the opposite is the case. The higher the case numbers, the more stridently they insist that lockdowns and other restrictions be overturned as quickly as possible, based on the same inoculation levels that have failed to halt surges in countries such as Singapore and Israel.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that international travel would resume in November, earlier than planned, as the spearhead of a far broader reopening.

The announcement was made days after an article In the British Financial Times (FT) declared that Australia is making big mistakes in failing to reopen to the world, with business leaders accusing the government of putting politics before science ahead of a looming general election. The preeminent mouthpiece of finance capital highlighted statements by business chiefs, who were Increasingly fed up with COVID-19 lockdown policies and have said the nation will have to learn to live with the virus, as many other countries have done.

It is these profit interests that are determining government policy. In NSW, the limited lockdown is to be ended next Monday, despite infections continuing to approach one thousand a day. A full reopening is planned for November-December. The Labor government in Victoria has adopted an almost identical roadmap, even though infections in the state have reached a record of more than 1,700 per day, including a jump of 50 percent in a 24-hour period last week.

With the healthcare system already in an unprecedented crisis, official modelling from the NSW and Victorian governments predicts that the reopening will likely overwhelm their hospitals. They are preparing to implement a triage system, under which some critically-ill patients would be denied care. Medical experts have warned that the protocols would lead to people with an eighty percent chance of survival, if they were treated, being left to die.

In-person teaching is resuming en masse in both states this month, even though 30 percent of all cases in NSW have been among children and teenagers and thousands more young people have been infected in Victoria, during a period when most learning has been conducted online.

As is the case internationally, this program is provoking widespread opposition. Thousands of teachers and students have taken to social media and issued petitions, condemning the reopening of the schools. Healthcare workers have written open letters, denouncing the official policies as creating the conditions for mass death.

It is these sentiments that the various business chiefs are railing against. In countless editorials over the past months, the financial press has insisted that governments must take on the opposition among workers and young people. As one comment in the Australian declared, it was necessary to change the Australian mindset and force an end to the popular addiction to lockdown.

In this, the trade unions have played a central role. They have joined with the corporations to ensure workplaces have remained open throughout the pandemic, have lobbied for their industries to be exempted from lockdown measures, and are seeking to suppress any mobilisation against the official pandemic policies.

Critical lessons must be drawn. In one form or other, all of the capitalist governments are turning towards the policies of herd immunity and death. The developments in the Asia-Pacific are providing a graphic demonstration of the bankruptcy of official strategies aimed at mitigating the impacts of the virus, without seeking its eradication, and the impossibility of maintaining a program of elimination, within the framework of the capitalist system.

The fight to eradicate the virus, which epidemiologists have explained is both possible and necessary, depends on the development of an independent movement of the working class that asserts the social rights of the population, including to health and life, above private profit. The October 1 school strike in Britain, which won support from thousands of teachers, parents, students and workers around the world, points the way forward.

On October 24, the WSWS is holding an international online webinar featuring leading scientists and workers involved in this struggle, to explain the case for eradication and provide the public with the critical knowledge necessary to develop a broad-based and international movement to end the pandemic and reclaim the future.

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New Zealand to halt removal of ‘at risk’ children from families – Reuters

Posted: at 4:32 am

WELLINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - New Zealand said on Wednesday it will put a virtual halt to the practice of taking at-risk children away from their families, a care policy that has long angered its indigenous Maori community.

Children deemed to be facing harm have been moved into state care for decades despite Maori criticism that the process is racially skewed and a legacy of colonisation. A vast majority of the children taken, a process known locally as uplifting, are Maori.

Thousands of Maori took to the streets in 2019 in protest after media reports that the children's ministry tried to take a newnew-born baby away from her mother in hospital.

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis said on Wednesday the government has accepted all recommendations of a ministerial advisory board on how to fix the child care and the protection system. The ministry had been told that removing children should be used only as a last resort.

"This report will end uplifts as we have known them," Davis said in a statement, adding that future efforts would focus on community-led prevention.

In 2019-2020, 1,334 children entered state care, according to documents on the ministry's website, of which about 60% were Maori.

Maori have called children taken into state care as New Zealand's "stolen generation" - a reference to indigenous Australians forcibly taken from their families as children under an official policy of assimilation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, seen as a global figure on issues of woman's rights and social justice, launched a Royal Commission of Inquiry in 2018 into the abuse of young people in state care, saying the country needed to confront "a dark chapter" in its history.

The inquiry revealed in December that up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in faith-based and state care institutions from the 1960s to the early 2000s. read more

Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Timaru tragedy: Murder-accused mum Lauren Dickason back in court after tragic death of three daughters – New Zealand Herald

Posted: at 4:32 am

Lauren Anne Dickason was arrested and charged with murdering her three daughters, and appeared in court on Saturday morning.Video / George Heard

A woman charged with murdering her three young daughters at their Timaru home has been excused from today's court appearance as her mental health assessments continue.

A trial date has been set but she is yet to enter a plea.

Lauren Anne Dickason, 40, was charged with murdering her three daughters - Lian, 6, and twin sisters Maya and Karla, 2.

She first appeared in the Timaru District Court on September 18, two days after allegedly murdering the children.

The specific details of the alleged murder have been suppressed.

Dickason was remanded in custody to a forensic psychiatric ward at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch.

There, she underwent a mental health assessment ahead of her first appearance in the High Court today.

Dickason's appearance in person this morning before Justice Rachel Dunningham was excused.

She was due to appear via an audio visual link from Hillmorton Hospital but the court heard more time was needed for her health assessment.

The case is being heard in the High Court at Timaru but the hearing itself was today facilitated from the Christchurch Justice Precinct.

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Dickason's lawyer Kerryn Beaton QC sought a further remand for the alleged killer at Hillmorton Hospital.

A forensic psychiatrist has been booked to assess her further this weekend.

A trial date for March 2023 was set, even though no pleas have been entered at this stage.

Dickason's case will be called again on October 15.

The Dickason family arrived in Timaru just a week before the children died on September 16.

They moved here from Pretoria in South Africa and spent their mandatory time in managed isolation before they were released to start their new life.

Graham Dickason is an orthopedic surgeon and had a job with the South Canterbury District Health Board.

It is understood he had been at a work function with colleagues and arrived home to find the grisly scene.

A neighbour told the Herald the morning after the alleged murders that she heard the sounds of sobbing and moaning at about 9.40pm.

Another neighbour found the distressed father and called 111.

Police then converged on the house.

Lauren Dickason was unresponsive and in a critical condition when her husband arrived home.

She was taken to Timaru Hospital for treatment and was stable enough by Friday night to speak with police.

She was charged with murder soon after.

Lauren Dickason is also a doctor who worked in the orthopedic area.

A week after the alleged murders, a vigil was outside the house by members of the community.

The event was in memory of the girls and to show the Dickason family support and love.

Hundreds of people attended and words by Graham Dickason, his parents and his in-laws were read.

A similar event was held simultaneously in Pretoria.

The message penned by Graham Dickason was the first the public had heard from the family since the tragedy unfolded.

"It is a loss I will carry with me for the rest of my life my words are few," he said of the deaths of his "precious angels".

"In this time of terrible tragedy and adversity I can only ask for prayer for strength and for healing.

"Please also pray for my lovely Lauren for I honestly believe she is a victim in this as well.

"I have already forgiven her and I urge you in your own time to do the same it is the key to healing this loss we have all experienced."

Family in Pretoria shared details of a second memorial they held last week.

They spent time at a local park where they had put up huge photos of the slain sisters along with descriptions of them.

"A beautiful little girl inside and out. You were such a chatterbox with an infectious laugh," Lian's read.

"You loved cuddles, you enjoyed baking - even though you ate a lot of the mixture before it was baked.

"You were so creative and loved your stickers and sparkles.

"You were kind and always cared deeply for those around you.

"You were a loving sister with a soft heart."

Karla was born with a cleft lip and her grandparents said last week she did not have the best start in life - but she overcame that and was brave and an explorer.

At the family service she was described as "a beautiful little girl who was feisty, independent and strong".

"Yet, kind and caring," her photo caption read.

"You loved a cuddle and loved early mornings.

"Your smile left an impact on each person that met you.

"You were such a cheerful and happy little soul, your little personality was contagious."

Maya was remembered as "a beautiful gentle little girl who was always smiling".

"And a real little charmer who knew just what look to give us to get one more sweetie.

"Playful to the core, so happy and cheerful - you loved tea parties and perfected the pinkie finger ."

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7) SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7) YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email or online chat. NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7) KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7) WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm) DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 SAMARITANS 0800 726 666.

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Gary Stead on T20 WC: Main goal is to get to the semi-finals – ESPNcricinfo

Posted: at 4:32 am


NZ coach feels "there are six-seven teams that could win this tournament"

Having won the inaugural World Test Championship earlier in June, New Zealand now have the rare chance to win another world title in the same year as they prepare for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in the UAE. Head coach Gary Stead said that New Zealand aren't distracted by that prospect and that their main focus is to first qualify for the semi-finals.

"Every tournament you go in, you go in with high hopes, hope to win games and put yourself in a position to achieve that," Stead said during a virtual media interaction after arriving in the UAE. "I guess our first one is focusing on one game at a time, but the main goal is to get to that semi-finals stage and if you're there, you'll know that you're only two wins away from a title. We're in a tough pool, I genuinely think there are six-seven teams that could win this tournament, and I guess that's good for world cricket as well."

New Zealand are placed in Group A, which also includes former champions India and Pakistan. They will first run into Pakistan in Sharjah on October 26 and there could potentially be some tension around the clash after New Zealand recently called off their limited-overs tour of Pakistan, citing security concerns. Newly appointed PCB chairman Ramiz Raja was particularly critical of New Zealand's abrupt pullout, promising to avenge the cancellation when Pakistan face them at the World Cup.

Stead, however, downplayed the chatter around the game. "I'm not sure if there's any more tension on it from our perspective," he said. "Obviously, what happened in Pakistan was sad for Pakistan cricket, their players and also our players who missed out on that opportunity as well. We can't change what has happened there; all we can do is, I guess, prepare for the tournament, and we face Pakistan first up. I'm sure it will be an exciting game. We've always had good games with Pakistan cricket and this one will be no different."

Stead said that New Zealand are also wary of the challenging conditions they could face in the UAE. They will play two games in Sharjah, where pitches have become sluggish after being relaid and as many in Dubai, where tracks have slowed down at the fag end of this IPL, before rounding off their league stage with the match against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi. It helps New Zealand that ten players in their World Cup squad are currently part of the IPL in the UAE and the likes of Martin Guptill and Ish Sodhi, who had arrived in the UAE earlier from Pakistan, have been training with Thilan Samaraweera.

"We've taken it [mental health] very seriously and tried to be upfront with our players and stuff around how we sit with it."

Gary Stead, NZ head coach

"I've watched a fair bit of the IPL," Stead said. "It looks like there are three different surfaces and even as the tournament progresses, there seems to be the odd bit of rogue score - a very high-scoring game in Abu Dhabi, where 190 got chased down but the norm has been anywhere between 120 through to 150 mark. With the three grounds, I guess, they will provide different options and opportunities that we need to consider as well. We will certainly be calling on the expertise of and knowledge of those guys that have been playing in the IPL - what they can add to our intel as well."

Stead stressed that the mental well-being of the players and staff is something that is of utmost priority for New Zealand. Stead, the rest of the support staff, and wicketkeeper-batter Devon Conway are currently in isolation for six days before they could head out and train.

"We've taken it [mental health] very seriously and tried to be upfront with our players and stuff around how we sit with it," Stead said. "We've also brought John Quinn with us to look after the well-being of our staff and players who are over here at the World Cup and then John will go home and will be replaced by Rod Corbin - they are guys within our mental skills network of providers back home. Those guys are there just to make sure they are checking in with all our players and staff and making sure we are taking that really, really seriously as well.

"When you sit in a room for long periods of time, it's not always that easy. It's perhaps a novelty for the first day or two, but then when you look at the same four walls time and time again, it can be difficult. That's, I guess, the world we live in at the moment, but also understanding that we're in a privileged position of being able to tour around the world as well and play these World Cups, which is still exciting for us."

As part of New Zealand's plans to rotate players and even staff over the winter, Stead himself was given a break for the tours to Bangladesh and Pakistan, with Wellington Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall standing in for him. Stead was pleased with the progress of the fringe players who stepped up in spin-friendly conditions and ran a near-full-strength Bangladesh side close before eventually losing the series 3-2.

"It was definitely a different experience [watching the Bangladesh tour from the outside]," Stead said. "I'm really proud of the way the guys played over there. That was a relatively inexperienced Black Caps team that went over there when you consider what we normally had and to be able to take two games off a real quality side was encouraging, and to be in the running for all five matches was also very encouraging. So pleased with the development of the team there. We've planned out well in advance because of the well-being aspect of all our players and this was going to be the way we would tour for the winter. I guess, no surprises from our sense of how it's playing out."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Be part of New Zealand’s best commercial builds –

Posted: at 4:32 am


Te Raekura Redcliffs School in Christchurch won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand Commercial Project 2021 Awards.

For almost a decade the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards have celebrated teamwork, collaboration, and outstanding buildings in the commercial construction sector.

With entries now open for the 2022 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards all architects, building owners, designers, engineers, and contractors are being called on to enter.

The NZ Commercial Project Awards is the only competition of its type in New Zealand. "The awards are a moment for us to celebrate and acknowledge the project teams and partners behind New Zealand's best commercial buildings," says Master Builder's president, Kerry Archer.

In its 10th year of the competition, the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards are proudly owned by Registered Master Builders yet you don't need to be a Master Builder to enter. The competition is open to all New Zealand based commercial construction project partners.

"The awards are designed to shine a light on New Zealand's buildings and the skilled teams behind them," explains Archer. "Commercial buildings play a big part in our lives - from apartments, to schools, offices, hospitals, libraries and entertainment facilities. The way these buildings are designed and built make a difference to every New Zealander. This is reflected in the vast range of New Zealand's buildings and projects that are entered into the 10 different award categories."

"The awards have something for everyone, both big and small. To address the misconception that commercial just means large and high value, this year we have expanded the Value Awards to include smaller value projects which are just as important to our communities," says Archer.

"These changes will allow smaller contractors to showcase their local projects to national clients who operate all around New Zealand, as well as celebrating the very best of our larger builds.

"The awards recognise the project team's collaboration, innovation, quality and how they overcame challenges of the project together. It is not about the size of the project or the size of the budget."

All entries are judged by a small but accomplished panel of judges - a commercial contractor and one other experienced member of the construction industry.

NZ Commercial Project Award judge and architect, Rod Macdiarmid says it was pleasing to see last year's competition entries have a focus on both managing carbon emissions and improving site safety. "Companies are putting in more effort to measure and manage their own emissions across all operations, even vehicle fleets. It is also positive to see waste management becoming a normal practise with a greater focus on waste separation."

The judges were also impressed by the focus of the project teams on on-site safety, crediting much of this down to new technology.

"A key development we noticed was the use of apps to record near-miss incidents. This technology means the record can be anonymised, taking away the fear that can come with reporting incidents. We hope to see these trends continue to grow in this year's entries," says Macdiarmid.

The Awards are made possible through the support of Altus Window Systems, CARTERS, Construction Marketing Services, GIB, and Resene.

Entries are now open.For more information about the competition and to enter visit

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New Zealand Maoris Kapa Haka wows audience at Expo – The National

Posted: at 4:32 am

A sizeable audience at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre was treated to a performance central to New Zealands national identity the Kapa Haka

For most, the ceremonial Maori war dance is performed before each All Blacks rugby game and is intended as a challenge to the opposition and rousing rally for players before heading into battle on the pitch.

For New Zealanders, it is part of their national identity, creating meaningful connections within communities, other nations and people.

Those lucky enough to witness the performance of UAE-based Kapa Haka group Ngati Koraha at the amphitheatre in the Al Forsan district were treated to a rousing performance of compositions, chants, choral singing and graceful action songs.

For those who missed it, there are plans to have further Kapa Haka performances in November as well as on New Zealands national day, on January 31.

Updated: October 4th 2021, 4:02 PM

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