Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Update Aotearoa 18th April 2019

Recent news items I found of interest…

No capital gains tax

Aotearoa New Zealand is somewhat unique among OECD nations in that it has no payroll tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, or capital gains tax. We also have a relatively flat income tax regime, starting at 10% from the first dollar earned, and leveling out to 33% at around NZ$70,000 (US$50,000). The left of centre political parties have made much of the fact that our tax system places an unfair burden on those with lower incomes. The Labour party, and the Greens campaigned on reviewing our tax system, and on gaining power the Labour lead coalition set up a tax working group to review the current system and make recommendations on changes that would make the system more equitable.

One recommendation was the introduction of a capital gains tax (CGT). Unfortunately, the coalition minority party New Zealand First, lead by Winston Peters, would have none of this, whereas Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister and leader of the Labour party has long advocated a CGT. As say describes herself, she’s a “pragmatic idealist” and so for the foreseeable future CGT is off the table.
Capital gains tax abandoned by Government

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

New Zealand aims to be the first country in the world with an action plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in relation to Māori.

Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta is travelling to the United Nations in New York over Easter to speak on New Zealand’s indigenous rights record to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

It comes after a high-level UN delegation from the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visited the country to give advice on how New Zealand can implement the Declaration, which the country signed up to in 2010.

Mahuta said the delegation had been introduced to Māori leaders and groups up and down the country and met with ministers.

New Zealand aims to be first with UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples plan

New Zealand’s environment in serious trouble

A bleak picture of the state of New Zealand’s environment has been painted by the Government’s official report, Environment Aotearoa 2019. The report is jointly produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, and is a follow on from the last report in 2015. The report says the way New Zealanders live and make a living is having a serious impact on the environment, and the benefits New Zealanders get from being in nature, though not measured or quantified, could be lost.

Damning report warns New Zealand’s environment is in serious trouble

New Zealand’s geographical centre shifts

If you’re looking for the centre of New Zealand, it’s moved. And it’s not in the same island any more either.

The change is nothing to do with how the land has shifted as a result of the November 2016 Kaikōura quake.

GNS Science researcher Jenny Black has recalculated the country’s geographic focus, taking into account that the United Nations now recognises New Zealand covers about 6 million square kilometres, 95 per cent of it sea floor.

New Zealand’s geographical centre shifts east and hops islands

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Māori Action songs

Way back in the 1950s, learning, and participating in aspects of Māori culture and history was part of the curriculum of the primary school I attended. At that time, this was not so common, so I feel blessed that from an early age I understood that Māori culture was a rich part of the cultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand instead of something belonging to a pre-European stone age people that no longer had any relevance.

Unfortunately, even today, we find some Kiwis of non-Māori descent who see no value in the indigenous culture of this land, and object to Te Reo (the Māori language) being part of the education curriculum, and Māori culture as something outside what they consider “New Zealand culture”. In other words it has no place in a modern society. I hope I am correct in observing a decline in this type of thinking.

As some 95% of my reader are not from Aotearoa New Zealand, I want to occasionally blog about the indigenous culture that makes this country special, and is having an increasing influence within our society. I have posted a few articles relating to aspects of Māori culture and values in the past, particularly where they have some influence on myself or the wider population, including:
I am a mono-linguist (12 September 2018)
A Creation Myth (17 March 2018)
River gains personhood (24 July, 2017)
Treaty of Waitangi 101 (20 October 2015)
Animism is the established religion of Aotearoa New Zealand. Really? (15 October, 2015)
Our new flag? (1 September 2015)
Farewell Haka (6 August 2015)
Songs that move me (20 March 2015)

Until a back injury forced a early retirement, my father was a physical education adviser for what was then the Department of Education. One of his roles was “on the job” physical education training for primary school teachers, which meant we often saw him only on weekends. He was very passionate about developing a love for activity that challenged both the mind and body. With this in mind, he encouraged both folk dancing and Māori action songs alongside team sports, swimming, athletics and playground games that did not require direct adult supervision.

Māori action songs were traditionally an art form and used to improve various skills. For example, poi action songs improved strength and suppleness of the wrists. For women, this improved skills in weaving and basket making, while for men, it improved their skills in wielding weapons used in hand to hand combat. Rākau games and action songs improved hand/eye coordination.

Rākau are wooden sticks, typically between 40 cm and 60 cm in length ( approximately1.5 ft to 2 ft), while a poi is a weight attached to a string that is then swung in rhythmic patterns. Traditionally poi were made from harakeke (flax) and raupō (bulrush), but today can be made of almost any material.

As a performing art today, both poi and rākau are performed mostly by women. In play, many schools encourage rākau games for both genders and for both Māori and Pākehā alike. To a large extent, my father was responsible for their popularity in the Taranaki and Whanganui regions during the second half of the 20th century.

As a child, I had less coordination than most of my peers, probably related to my undiagnosed autism, and while I found the poi and rākau challenging, I found them enjoyable. I’m convinced that I am not as clumsy as I would have been had it not been for these and similar activities.

Although the video clip below is relatively recent, the chaos is similar to how I remember the activity as a child. Notice the use of rolled up magazines instead of wooden sticks. When learning, they are less painful ! The second video clip illustrates a somewhat more polished performance, followed by the poi.

There are two forms of the poi: the long and the short. The string on the long poi is the distance from finger tip to shoulder, and for the short poi it’s the distance from finger tip to wrist. They are both just as difficult to master, and I never did get the hang of twirling contra-rotating long poi in one hand. The next clips illustrate the short and long forms respectively. Enjoy


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Treaty of Waitangi 101

This post is primarily for Kiwis who haven’t bothered to understand the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We Pakeha were guilty of ignoring the Treaty for more than a hundred years, and it is only in recent decades that an attempt has been made to redress some of the wrongs committed by the crown over many generations. We still have a long way to go, and it’s often a case of two steps forward and one step back.

Too many Pakeha have made no attempt to understand what the treaty means to Māori and to us as a nation, and in essence, want Māori to “integrate” by abandoning all that is sacred and unique about their culture and become “brown Pakeha”. They don’t want Te Reo (the Māori language) taught in schools, nor the preservation of customary rights, and especially not the partial restoration of land and and the payment of compensation for all that was confiscated from Māori after the Land Wars in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Understanding the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi is not really too difficult – it consists of three articles. Most of us understand understand Articles I and III, but for many Pakeha and for successive governments we have failed to honour Article II. It’s time this was redressed. The video clip below explains the basic principles of the three articles.

Now that wasn’t too difficult was it?