Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: My way or the highway

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  • Russell Brown,

    In the references to getting business involved in feeding kids at school and getting behind the voluntary sector he's, er, labouring a fairly thin point. But here's my prediction: this will be the point where National and the Maori Party will converge on a common interest. If the Maori Party can help divert money from state agencies to iwi-based organisations, that's a win for them.

    The problem is that the organisations he's talking about don't presently have the capacity - or the will, probably - to do more than a little of the dirty, daily work that people in social agencies do. It all sounds good, but I suspect it's a lot harder than it sounds.

    The speech itself is a wee bit banal, but in principle I think I like "the Kiwi Way" better than "mainstream New Zealanders" ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Beer,

    The Kiwi Way stuff sounds like vintage Howard, or at least Howard when he's resting the wedge.

    Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    my thought exactly chris. it appears key is channelling howard. but spookily, he's also channelling latham.

    the ladder of opportunity was a feature of lathams (unsuccessful) putsch.

    in another issue: someone at work pointed out to me that the policy of loading bureaucracy onto successful private programmes has the tendency to stifle them with 'deliverables' and onerous reporting. lest we forget the 1990s.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    in another issue: someone at work pointed out to me that the policy of loading bureaucracy onto successful private programmes has the tendency to stifle them with 'deliverables' and onerous reporting. lest we forget the 1990s.

    We've been discussing the far-less-accountable employment schemes of the 80s and 90s on Tze Ming's thread -- their looseness had its advantages. In comparison, the PACE scheme (ie: the "arts dole") is a favourite target for lazy Act MPs, but participants are almost painfully accountable for their income.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    I was actually at this event today (returning to my old Chch roots as it were).

    What struck me about it all was the audience. Predominantly white and well off. There was a who's who of the Canterbury wealthy in attendance. Had there been a fire at the Burnside Rugby Club this afternoon Canterbury's GDP potential would have taken a bit of a hit.

    I did look but I couldn't see a table for the economic underclass anywhere in the building.

    While I can understand the symbolism for John Key to "return to his roots" in Burnside it struck me as a little off-kilter that John Key was talking about the poor instead of to them.

    For the record the event doubled as a National Party fundraiser. There were about 250+ people there paying $65 a head. So they would have raised about $16,000.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • michael wood,

    The convergence of National and Maori Party interests around the outsourcing of social service delivery will undoubtedly be an area to watch over the coming year. But I think that National has some work to do.

    How do you credibly pursue this line when your best days in opposition have spent hounding Waiparera, the Wananga, and any other community based organisation receiving govt money beginning with 'Te'?

    It also seems to me that Maori community organisations have been making their own way fairly well in recent years, with an alternate funding stream in place through the Treaty settlement process.

    Mt Roskill • Since Jan 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • michael wood,

    That's just dimes and nickles Felix.

    Mt Roskill • Since Jan 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    - i should also point out that it was a contractor i was speaking to.

    - i read your comment RB and agree with it. generally there are some successes in this field, and from hearing sharples on the radio i have confidence that *he's* the sort of bloke who can make one of these programmes work.

    but in general social programmes seem to work best when you don't have political intervention. if the nats can make that work, the separation between the "hui" and the "do-e", then they'll be doing blimmin well.

    - in regard to the attendees, i've long thought 'economic underclass' was shorthand for 'all those dole bludgers and solo mums'.

    - did tze ming have numbers for long term unemployed? isn't it something like less than 5k individuals? i had the impression it was a very small percentage of the workforce. i.e. we have over 2 million employed, and a few thousand not. cue 'the waving of the arms'.

    - finally, michael. back when they were devising the treaty settlements there was concern that the crown was absolving itself of responsibility for managing social outcomes and buying marae programmes on the cheap. the money withdrawn from the ministry of maori affairs paid for the fiscal envelope in 4(?) years. naturally this was denied. i guess time has told us.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    what occurred to me this morning is that before mr. key gets this citizen's vote, how does this 'underclass' argument tie in to all those people who barely earn more than the minimum wage?

    are we only focusing on getting dole bludgers into work? or are we talking about raising the living standards of the minimum wagers?

    there are plenty of people like me who earnt minimum wage for a short time while they study/train, but what about all those workers (mostly female) who do our cleaning, look after our old people? i'm sure the members of his audience have hired one from time to time.

    are we only looking to get people out of low-income public money into low-income private money?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    Good point about those on minimum wage Che - it's something that worries me, that we focus so much on getting people into work, any work, that we don't really think about the working poor, which is a very real problem. Talk to anyone at a low decile school and they will tell you that many of the parents do work, some of them several shift jobs, but they just don't earn much doing it.

    And of course these jobs tend to be in areas that were either agressively de-unionised in the 1990s or have expanded significantly during that period, so that the bulk of the workforce are without a history or sense of collectivity. And the crucial ability to bargain together to raise their pay and conditions.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Isn't The Underclass the new Barbarian Horde?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    no, that's 'the muslims'.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Talk to anyone at a low decile school and they will tell you that many of the parents do work, some of them several shift jobs, but they just don't earn much doing it.

    Absolutely span. And I have a nasty feeling that often when you read a case about young people causing trouble in the paper, and you ask "but where are the parents", the answer is that they are at work, or asleep and worn out after their second shift.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Not in NZ I would aver Mr Che. My take on this underclass thing is to manufacture this Underclass as The Other. The NZ Muslim community representatives (carefully worded there) have been far to reasonable to set themselves up for Howard style attention. In NZ The Race card doesn't work, so now it's the old Class card. For those who have suffered under NZ egalitarianism, we know it is a small poppy under another name.
    Where Key went/ goes wrong is/ was that Labour can easily counter all points with the stats, and they will.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    The phrase 'The Kiwi Way' is then deployed through the speech as a kind of veiled threat. Disagree with this proposition and you are denying the Kiwi Way. In that respect, it has the same hegemony as the Mainstream New Zealanders argument.

    Exactly. Quite apart from any debate about what content may or may not exist behind the rhetoric (and it's easy to see that a phrase like "we believe in working hard and getting rewarded for it" is code for "tax cuts for the rich"), it's that same old Kiwi essentialism that gets me.

    All that 8 tribes malarkey might be shallow, glib and as methodologically rigorous as a Deborah Coddington article, but I like one implication of what they're saying: there is no such thing as "the" Kiwi way. And I have to say that it's not only the right that's guilty of that: Russell's use of Keith Sinclair's "paganus" concept ("an attachment to the land, sea and sky seems a core part of what it is to be a New Zealander of whatever heritage. It's the thing we all (or nearly all) answer to.") seems almost as simplistic and "mainstreaming" as "the Kiwi way".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    __In NZ The Race card doesn't work__

    Doesn't it? Seems to be the ace that trumps Immos in general and "Asians" in particular, especially if accompanied by a choir of dog-whistles when played.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    accompanied by a choir of dog-whistles

    that is a great image.

    you'd need them to flash mob a 'Best in Show' venue for full effect. or crash a stockyards on sale day.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    All that 8 tribes malarkey might be shallow, glib and as methodologically rigorous as a Deborah Coddington article, but I like one implication of what they're saying: there is no such thing as "the" Kiwi way. And I have to say that it's not only the right that's guilty of that: Russell's use of Keith Sinclair's "paganus" concept ("an attachment to the land, sea and sky seems a core part of what it is to be a New Zealander of whatever heritage. It's the thing we all (or nearly all) answer to.") seems almost as simplistic and "mainstreaming" as "the Kiwi way".

    Ooh, that's a bit harsh. If you read the full essay (the introduction to Great New Zealand Argument), I've cited evidence for the idea, not least in the Expat Files project we did here on PA, where that idealised feeling for the land sea and sky came through more strongly than anything else. An attitudes survey in 2005 found the same thing, and attachment to the land is a recognised theme in our arts and literature and, of course, in Maori culture. I think it's a valid observation.

    The same essay also explores less flattering elements of national character. By comparison, Key pulled "the Kiwi Way" out of his ass and made it mean what he wanted it to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Iwi/ Kiwi failed National abyssmally. Part of the Distancing Ourselves From Don project is to bury the race thing in the Class thing.
    And remember in NZ the most commonly used dog command is,
    "Get away back!".
    And BTW, Asians and Immo's ain't that easily trumped and nor am I.
    The reason why JK is so hard to believe is that he is in the wrong party, either he needs approval from The Patriarchy too much, or he is being pulled bt the puppet master.
    See the JFK progrom would not have worked if he had have been in the Republican party.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    RB, ever wondered why the land thing is so prevalent in our literature? Maybe the other issues were subsumed by it? Then there's the funding issue, but that's another story.
    You wrote poetry once, there's a world of differnce between literature and poetry.
    Not I this child of a favoured year, will learn this trick of standing upright here...Curnow.
    Plus, whenever anyone says Kiwi anymore, especially politicians, I shudder like Lisa Simpson.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Oh God, in my haste...."Not I, but some child born in a marvelous year / Will learn the trick of standing upright here".
    And the spelling errors I have made, I apologise.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    I agree that the concept of "paganus" doesn't seem any more acceptable than that of the "kiwi way". I am also very wary of laying out cultural definitions as goals (not sure what Dr Che would say). In particular it makes no sense to me to put a frame around national (*cultural ?) identity and say that is the X-way or Xyness. These are things that do not stand in aspic and are products of place and time.

    I don't think it long before there is a group of kiwi's who think that grass is the stuff that grows in the cracks in concrete and it serves no great purpose to dismiss them as jaffas. Having seen it at work I am equally suspicious of "multiculturalism" and "Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite" the British back pedalling has been particularly interesting as has been French paralysis.

    The bits I wrestle with are - importing poverty and the development of cultural values that act against nationhood and it is at this level that political rhetoric makes no sense at all.

    I would expect that in the long term Keys's mantra will focus on Nats Shiny - New ! Good ! Labour, Old- Tired, bad (repeat until elected).....

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Sonic,

    It is weak as water in it's solutions, all that rhetoric and only one concrete proposal that I could see...

    Breakfast.

    Even the Kiwi Blog gang are failing to whip up much enthusiasm.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I agree that the concept of "paganus" doesn't seem any more acceptable than that of the "kiwi way".

    But why not? You and Merc have just said "I disagree", and I've cited cause for the observation that an an idealised feeling for the land is a component of our national identity. Michael King and Keith Sinclair have made similar observations in more graceful prose than mine.

    I don't think it excludes other elements, or precludes change, but where we're at now, it remains a reasonable observation.

    On the other hand, 81st Column, you seem to be ruling cultural diversity out of your own definitions. What are these "cultural values that act against nationhood"?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    And don't a lot of the low decile primary schools already have the breakfast thing going on anyway? (Although of course more funding for schools, for breakfast or something else, is a Good Thing!)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

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