'Around the wrong way' - campaigner demands sweeping changes to prevent Kiwi kids suffering violent deaths

Family violence campaigner Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is calling for more resources to be put into struggling families to prevent the violent deaths of New Zealand children.

Ms Raukawa-Tait spoke yesterday at the inquest into the horrific death of Taupo toddler Moko Rangitoheriri, saying nothing has been improved for children in New Zealand since the death of Nia Glassie 10 years ago.

She is calling for sweeping changes to be made to the way government agencies deal with cases of child abuse.

"We've got it around the wrong way," Ms Raukawa-Tait told TVNZ1's Breakfast programme this morning.

"Why aren't we getting into these homes early enough, putting the right people there?"

Between 2007 and 2015, 94 children were killed in New Zealand.

Ms Raukawa-Tait says the government is putting millions of dollars worth of resources into dealing with the aftermath of child abuse, but instead should be putting that into preventing it.

"We've got to make the necessary changes. Otherwise we're going to continue to get this parade of children dying in our country but we don't do that."

"Plucking" children from their homes is not addressing the abuse or helping change families, she says.

"Eventually those children will return home or other children will be born to those homes so it is the homes where the resources must go."

She says the country needs to reframe how it classes certain families in New Zealand.

"All families aren't mad, bad and sad. But what they are doing is living in struggle street every day; they're never getting any breathing space."

Family violence campaigner Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says resources need to go to preventing violence, not dealing with its aftermath. Source: Breakfast



Rural relief teacher shortage forced one school to send students home

Rural schools have struggled to find enough relief teachers during the winter flu season with at least one sending students home because of a lack of staff.

Official figures showed there were fewer cases of flu than usual in the past few months, but principals told RNZ the teacher shortage was making it harder to find back-up when teachers were unwell or needed time away from the classroom.

Murupara Area School principal Angela Sharples said she recently had to take drastic action when the flu left the school without half of its teachers and not enough relievers.

"We actually had to roster home our senior students, our Years 9 to 13, on one day. I had planned on having our senior leadership team teaching and then we had another two staff call in sick that morning and I just didn't feel that I could safely open that part of the school."

Ms Sharples said she had never had to close part of her school before because of teacher absence.

"The relief teacher shortage has been getting worse in my opinion since I have been principal here at Murupara. But that combination of a poor teacher supply, poor relief teacher supply and then illness - I just couldn't come up with an appropriate solution."

It used to be a matter of filling out a form - now it's a $4,000, 12-week course. Source: 1 NEWS

She said it had become harder to find relievers since the introduction of a requirement that teachers who had not maintained their teaching registration complete a training course every six years.

She said the school provided a van to drive teachers and relievers from Rotorua which was 50 minutes away.

Ms Sharples said children in remote areas deserved education of as high a standard as those in urban areas.

The principal of Tuakau College near Pukekohe and Pokeno, Chris Betty, said the 48 teachers at his school had logged 330 sick days so far this year, which was a lot.

He said recently the school of 600 students could not find any relief teachers at all.

"We had five relievers that we wanted and we couldn't find them," he said.

Mr Betty said the school was forced to combine some classes and leave senior classes unsupervised.

He said being unable to find any relievers at all was unusual, but the school regularly had to leave classes unsupervised because of a lack of teachers.

"Sometimes we don't put relievers into senior classes, Year 13 classes, because they're 17, 18-year-olds, they're pretty responsible themselves. We might have someone visiting that class to check on them. There'd be a class each week I would think through the whole year on average. In the flu season it might be two or three classes," Mr Betty said.

Area Schools Association president Grant Burns said relievers were not just harder to find in rural areas than in urban areas, they were also more expensive because of their travel costs.

"We've certainly noticed that costs have crept up, actually more than crept up, have leapt up over the last five years at this school. It was around $25,000 a year we were spending on relief, now it's about $100,000 a year. The school has grown in that time, but not to that extent."

Mr Burns said one reason for the rising cost at his school was a growing reluctance to ask staff to cover for their colleagues during time they were supposed to use to prepare lessons.

He said finding relief teachers was time-consuming and it would be ideal if the government set up a central office to do the work.

"What I'd like to see is a middle layer of administration across a district that takes the daily scramble for relievers out of the hands of principals or their delegated staff members," he said.

"It would be nice if we could just simply make a call to the local ministry office or whatever it's called and say 'yep we need three relievers today please' and be able hang up the phone knowing those relievers were going to come.

Some teachers are having to rethink their careers because of a new course they have to take. Source: Breakfast

But at the moment we've got schools competing, all scrambling for a limited pool of relievers."

Mr Burns said jury duty was difficult for schools because it was never clear how long a teacher would be absent.

He said travel times also made it difficult to find relievers to cover short periods such as one or two hours in a day.

By John Gerritsen
Rnz.co.nz

Principals teaching, students being divvied up and teachers losing release time are all increasing practices at some schools. Source: 1 NEWS

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Most read: Jacinda Ardern’s GDP gaffe is understandable and not of much consequence, says economist

Shortly after Jacinda Ardern misspoke about economic data during a radio interview yesterday, the Kiwi dollar briefly rose.

It resulted in widespread media coverage and gave Opposition leader Simon Bridges an opening to throw another jab in their perpetual political joust, calling her "distracted".

But even if the Prime Minister's statement did cause the dollar to quiver, does it matter in the scheme of things?

"Not really," said Christina Leung, principal economist for the NZ Institute of Economic Research, as she discussed the issue on TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"The miscommunication is understandable," she said of the interview, in which Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking asked a question about tomorrow's release of gross-domestic product (GDP) figures and Ms Ardern replied, "I am very pleased with the way we are tracking".

The Prime Minister later clarified that she wasn't talking about GDP figures, which she isn't given advanced access to, but instead to the Government's balance sheet.

The Opposition says it shows the Prime Minister is distracted. Source: 1 NEWS

"Financial markets do tend to focus on the glamour stats...like GDP," Ms Leung said today. "And then the Prime Minister would be more focused, of course, about what implications of growth are on tax revenue and what it means for the Government's balance sheet."

Ms Leung said she didn't find the misstatement concerning. The GDP figures released tomorrow will look back to the June quarter, so they won't be affected in any way by a statement after the fact, she said.

And she's also not convinced the PM's statement caused the brief rise in the Kiwi dollar's value, from 65.78 to 65.84 US cents.

"It's always hard to link up what's driving the New Zealand dollar," she said. "A lot of financial markets are driven by a lot of different factors.

The Kiwi dollar rose slightly this morning following a radio interview in which some thought the PM had a sneak peek of Thursday’s figures. Source: 1 NEWS

"Ultimately, what effects the longer-term influence on the New Zealand dollar would be the interest rate differentials between New Zealand and the other major economies - particularly what's going on in the US."

With retail activity and construction "looking quite strong" in New Zealand, Ms Leung said she expects to see "fairly solid growth for the June quarter" - of up to one per cent - when the GDP stats are released tomorrow morning.

Christina Leung, principal economist for the NZ Institute of Economic Research, also tells Breakfast the outlook for tomorrow’s GDP announcement is good. Source: Breakfast

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FEATURED STORIES

The 140-year-old Christchurch suburb that may disappear from the map

Where we are born and raised is a big part of our identity, but imagine if your hometown was gradually disappearing?

The suburb of Sockburn in Christchurch has been around, in name at least, for the past 140 years.

Over 6000 people still live there, but the surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing it from all sides and the Sockburnian culture threatens to disappear altogether.

TVNZ1 Seven Sharp's Julian Lee visited the proud little suburb. To find out more watch the video above.

Surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing Sockburn from all sides. Source: Seven Sharp


Researcher talks 'positive knock-on effect' to animal welfare keeping us and our pets happy

Animal professional advocates and scientists are in Auckland for the 2018 Animal Welfare Conference.

Animal Welfare Conference organiser Professor Natalie Waran spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning about the links between human and animal welfare, and how treating animals well can help improve our lives and the lives of our beloved pets.

Professor Waran says her research in 'one welfare', which focuses on "exploring the links between human and animal welfare", particularly in "parts of the world where we’ve got enormous human welfare concerns and lots of competing human agendas".

She says the idea is about "really trying to emphasise the fact that you’re not just focusing on the animal end of the story, but you're also trying to make the reasons why we need to improve our animal welfare relevant to those people".

"The way that you make things relevant to humans is looking at it through a human lens and saying, 'If you improve things for animals, you will also have a knock-on effect – a positive knock-on effect – from improving the world for humans."

Professor Waran says one example is in developing countries, where you "can see that you have animals that are being kept in quite horrible conditions in many places of the world".

"You also find that you've got humans living alongside those who are dependent upon those animals, [and] dependent on those being productive. But actually, because of the way those animals are being kept, they're stressed, their immune systems are not great, they're more susceptible to disease, have higher welfare problems, and that then means that they don't produce as much food for those humans.

She says while it may appear like a 'chicken or the egg' situation, it also depends on a number of contributing factors which aren't always readily apparent.

"Although we're very familiar with what animal welfare is, in many parts of the world, there isn't even a word for animal welfare.

"There's not a real history or a culture of real care for animals, so you’re trying to make animal welfare relevant to people, and so, yes, you are going to end up with competing human agendas, but you also have to recognise that you provide the evidence, you provide the mechanisms through human behaviour change to show people how they can improve things for animals and why that matters for their welfare."

However, she acknowledges that the shift in thinking can be "very difficult, like boiling an ocean".

"It is a huge effort and lots and lots of different animal welfare charities around the world and in New Zealand - lots of government agencies - spend quite a lot of time trying to work out how to do this.

"I think just saying that people are cruel to animals is really not the story at all. What the truth is is that many people don't know how to improve animal welfare for animals, they don't know why it's important and it's up to us to look at ways that we can change the lens that they're looking through – change their behaviour so that they can see why it's important to improve conditions for animals."

Animal Welfare Conference speaker Professor Natalie Waran spoke to Breakfast about changing our approach to animal welfare to improve the lives of our pets. Source: Breakfast