'It’s a great opportunity for our most vulnerable people' – Pay equity on its way for mental health workers

Diversity Works CEO Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie explains what this will mean for women in these sectors. Source: Breakfast

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DOC to begin tahr control to reduce population numbers by 10,000 in South Island

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is set to begin tahr control this week following the release of its operational plan outlining how it will work with the hunting sector to reduce tahr numbers in the central South Island.

The Himalayan tahr population on public conservation land alone totals more than 35,000, DOC monitoring has found.

The Tahr Control Operational Plan was developed following a recent meeting with representatives of the Tahr Liaison Group, and includes ideas from the hunting sector on the best way to decrease their numbers over time.

Officials say tahr numbers have to be limited to protect the landscape. Source: 1 NEWS

DOC's acting lead director for tahr control, David Agnew, said, "By the end of August next year, DOC aims to reduce the tahr population on public conservation land by 10,000".

Heavy browsing and trampling by mobs of tahr can damage, and potentially wipe out, the native plants they feed on, including tall tussocks and the Aoraki/Mt Cook buttercup.

"With the support of the hunting sector, DOC aims to remove 6000 animals from public conservation land between now and mid-November," Mr Agnew said.

DOC is expected to begin aerial control on Thursday.

The results of the initial operation will be reviewed alongside the Tahr Liaison Group in December.

The cull has been opposed by some, with thousands getting behind moves to challenge the decision in court. 

NZ Tahr Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley told Breakfast last month that he questioned the science behind DOC's plans, and said it was "nothing short of eradication."

A NZ Hunter spokesperson Willie Duley told Breakfast about the damage a proposed cull would inflict. Source: Breakfast

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Fair Go: English test holding teachers back, prompts petition

At Bizzykids Early Childhood Learning centre in South Auckland, the children are just finishing a lesson counting in te reo before heading over to the story mat. 

Their teacher, Razia, quickly engages them in a tale of an angry bear and his quest for honey. 

Razia is on a quest of her own too, and like the bear, she's angry.

She wants to be registered as an Early Childhood Teacher.

It's been three years now since she achieved her Bachelor's degree with flying colours here in Auckland and she feels stuck.

Stuck on $18 an hour, rather than at least $23 an hour that she'd get as a registered teacher.

Stuck in the position of being unqualified which means she can't be promoted, and she can't even open or close the centre where she works by herself. 

Razia's problem is that she was born in Fiji, where English isn't the first language, so she has an additional requirement to pass an English Language test before she can get her registration.

To listen to Razia, you wouldn't think this was much of a barrier.

She chats away in good English, throws in typical kiwi expressions, and with the children she also speaks in te reo.

Despite this, Razia, and many others like her, are at breaking point.

Despite taking the test repeatedly, she's narrowly failing to get the marks she needs. Razia has scored the required level of 7 in her reading, speaking and listening every time. In writing though, she repeatedly gets 6.5. Her biggest frustration is that the tests are never returned so she never knows where she's going wrong. "Are you losing point five from grammar? or spelling? or not putting things in the right paragraph?" Razia is never sure, and the costs keep mounting. Each test is $385. Razia has taken the test five times. She's also spent a whopping $14,000 on tutoring over three years. She says she can't face taking the test again and is considering leaving the profession to find work that is better paid. 

The testing is set by the Teaching Council of New Zealand. They use four tests designed and assessed abroad. The most popular is the IELTS test as it's easily accessible, but many involved in Early Childhood Education question whether the tests used are the right ones. IELTS was designed in Britain some thirty years ago. It has been updated, but many still believe it's too hard, and that a New Zealand specific test would be better. It's fair to say everyone involved in Early Childhood Education wants high standards, but not at the cost of losing good teachers. In fact, a petition has been started which now has nearly 700 signatures asking for a change to the current testing practice. 

If we go back to Razia, it does seem a little crazy. She was educated in English where she grew up in Fiji. She came to New Zealand, and did her Bachelor's degree in Auckland in English. She can't understand how her language isn't good enough, after all the reports, essays and speeches she has completed, along with three years using English in her daily work. One parent at the centre said "from day one, I remember Razia being the best in the classroom with my daughter Harper. Personally, I think [the testing] is a little ridiculous, she is more than capable. I don't think an English test improves her ability at all."

The Teaching Council stands by the fact that it has a responsibly to maintain standards, but does admit IELTS can be frustrating for some, especially regarding tests not being returned. Rex Smith, Team Leader of Registration, says they have been listening to the profession and are now looking at alternative tests. They're also considering working with Colleges that provide tertiary education to get them more involved in ensuring high standards of English Language as people begin their degree.

This is all very good news. But it's too late for Razia. When we got involved in her plight, her employers at Bizzykids were trying one last ditch attempt at getting her registered. They'd put together a dossier of testimonials from parents, teachers and staff, all praising Razia for her command of English, along with records of all her qualifications. Thankfully this story has a happy ending. Whether it was down to the dossier, or to Fair Go's involvement, we're very happy to report that just before Fair Go went to air, Razia was called to say her registration application had been granted, without her having to re-sit the test.

An over-joyed Razia couldn't quite believe it.

"There were lots of tears! This is a big, big achievement. Thank you to everyone who supported me, and thanks to Fair Go for showing how people are struggling with their career."

It seems we have too many school children and not enough teachers. Source: Fair Go

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Air NZ takes axe to single use plastics on domestic flights, McDonald's says bye-bye to straws

McDonald’s and Air New Zealand are continuing the effort of big business to reduce plastic waste, announcing separate moves to reduce single-use plastics in their products.

Air New Zealand announced it will substitute a further 14 single-use plastic products from its supply chain over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s announced that from tomorrow, straws will be available on request only at the 167 restaurants across the country along with a trial of fibre-based straws.

At a sustainability breakfast this morning, Air NZ committed to replacing five single-use plastic products across domestic services, including water cups, café cups and lids, Koru Hour cheese plates and lids, as well as nine types of plastic bags network-wide, with lower impact alternatives over the year.

The move comes after the airline removed single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrappers and plastic toothbrushes earlier this year.

Over a 12 month period this will see the airline reduce its plastic footprint by 260,000 plastic toothbrushes, 3,000 straws, 7.1 million stirrers and 260,000 eye mask wrappers.

"Plastics are top of mind for us and our customers. Several of our waste and plastic reduction initiatives have been brought about by our employees telling us we can do better in this area. We know these are small steps but given our scale, they do result in a significant amount of single-use plastic being avoided," said Air NZ's Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell.

"If we were to line up all of the plastic stirrers we are replacing across our network, they would span the length of Cape Reinga to Taupo (around 700km).

"We are also working closely with our suppliers, who to date have been really supportive in helping us search for new ways to directly procure a number of inflight single-use plastic products, as has the Ministry for the Environment."

Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November.
Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November. Source: Air New Zealand

Meanwhile McDonald's said in a statement it planned to be part of the solution and help influence change.

"With our scale, McDonald's has a responsibility to look after the environment, and although the straw itself is just one type of packaging we need to consider, it’s a great start and something our customers told us they wanted to support," David Howse, McDonald’s New Zealand Managing Director, said.

McDonald's restaurants in Orewa, Havelock North and Queenstown will also be trialling a new fibre-based straw by the end of the year with the performance of the straws to be monitored and customer feedback gathered.

McDonald's Source: Associated Press


MP Jami-Lee Ross to make police complaint against Simon Bridges, will resign from Parliament

National's MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, will be laying an official police complaint against National Party leader Simon Bridges tomorrow, in which he'll allege electoral fraud.

Jami-Lee Ross.
Jami-Lee Ross. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Ross also told media this morning he would resign as a member of Parliament on Friday, sparking a by-election for the Botany seat.

Mr Ross said he would run as an independent.

Read more: National MPs vote unanimously to expel Jami-Lee Ross from caucus, Simon Bridges calls allegations baseless

“It's the strongest possible action the caucus could take,” says Simon Bridges. Source: 1 NEWS

Today he followed up on allegations of unlawful activity from Simon Bridges over electoral donations. 

In a news conference shortly afterwards, Mr Bridges dismissed the claims as "baseless", and encouraged him to report the matter to the police. 

'I have done absolutely nothing wrong," he said, but would not directly address Mr Ross' allegation. 

He said the party would not tolerate his behaviour, and he would be expelled. 

Mr Ross said: "Simon Bridges knows exactly what Cathedral Club is. It is a name used to hide a donation from a close friend of his. He claims it was a clerical error, I claim BS on that." 

"I believe Simon Bridges is a corrupt politician."

He later added: "On Monday 14th of May this year, I attended a dinner with Simon Bridges at the home of a wealthy Chinese businessman.

"The following week ...Simon called me in the evening he'd been at a fundraiser with Paul Goldsmith.

"He had been offered a donation $100,000 donation from the same wealthy businessman."

Mr Ross alleged Mr Bridges did not want the donation to be public, and asked Mr Ross to ensure it.

"I duly carried out Simon Bridges' wish."

He said it was split into smaller donations.

Mr Ross then said he had a recorded conversation with Mr Bridges about the alleged events.

Mr Bridges' office has previously directed media questions about the Cathedral Club to the party.

A spokesperson told Radio NZ yesterday that the donation error was down to the local Tauranga electoral committee and said the Electoral Commission was contacted to seek advice. The return was then amended and re-submitted.

Mr Ross' remarks this morning came a day after Bridges outed him as the likely leaker of his expenses, following the completion of a PWC report into the leaking.

"I'm standing up for what I believe in. New Zealand deserves better from the National Party," Mr Ross said today.

"I’m now the subject of a smear campaign.

"Simon is a flawed individual without a moral compass."

After taking sick leave earlier this month, Mr Ross said today he had had a mental breakdown but was now in good health.

He claimed the PWC report was inaccurate, and the only time he messaged the journalist who released the National Party expenses was when they texted him to ask how he was.

Mr Bridges yesterday denied all of Mr Ross' accusations and said: "He would say those things, given the situation."

 


Mr Ross made a number of claims about the National Party leader in relation to donations. Mr Bridges has denied any wrongdoing. Source: 1 NEWS