Peters claims party financials legal, but no explanation of Foundation

Yesterday Winston Peters claimed that NZ First  has operated “within electoral laws” and that their financial arrangements using the NZ First Foundation are legal, but has given no explanation of how they have handled donations.

A media release:

Rt Winston Peters

Leader of New Zealand First

19 November 2019

Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission.

Our system of democracy is based on the secrecy of the ballot and privacy of party memberships and donations within specified limits.

We look forward to discussing this matter with the Electoral Commission.

Their financials don’t just remain secret from the public. Newsroom: Peters under fire over ‘foundation’ loans

New Zealand First MP and former deputy leader Tracey Martin expressed ignorance about the reports, saying: “I don’t know anything about the New Zealand First Foundation.”

Asked whether she was concerned by the allegations, Martin said simply that they were “interesting”.

Remarkable that she knows nothing about the Foundation, presuming that she is telling the truth – (Peters has a history of making false claims and denials:

Peters would not comment on the allegations in detail when approached by media before New Zealand First’s caucus meeting this morning, but said he would put out a press statement later in the day to “put the record straight”.

“For 27 years we’ve obeyed the electoral law of this country, we’ve never deviated, the last time there was allegations like this was in 2008.

“There were three inquiries, the Serious Fraud Office, the police and the Electoral Commission – they all found us to be exonerated, we’re not going to have this again.”

But:

In 2008, Peters was indeed cleared by police, the SFO and Electoral Commission over allegations of fraud regarding a $100,000 payment from Owen Glenn to his lawyer Henry. However, he was formally censured by Parliament after its privileges committee said he had “knowingly provid[ed] false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests”.

The problem for Peters and NZ First doesn’t look like going way.

Newsroom: Peters allegations another political toothache for PM

Serious allegations about New Zealand First’s approach to electoral laws are some way from being established – but there is enough in the claims to concern both Jacinda Ardern and the public as a whole.

RNZ’s Guyon Espiner opened a crack in the door with a piece asking important questions rather than providing answers about the foundation.

Now, Stuff’s Matt Shand has busted it down with an investigation alleging a concerted effort to cloak hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from “primary industry leaders, wealthy investors and multi-millionaires”.

Shand’s story suggests the donations were used to finance election campaigns, pay for legal advice, and even hiring Joseph Parker to speak at the party’s 2017 conference.

So far, Peters has done little to refute the substance of the article.

A press release he claimed would put the record straight amounted to little more than a dodge of the allegations, along with the tautological statement that “declarable donations were declared”.

To borrow another tautology, this is deja vu all over again for Peters.

In 2008, a cascade of claims about donations made to New Zealand First by wealthy businessmen such as Sir Robert Jones, Sir Owen Glenn and the Vela family – but concealed from the public – sparked numerous investigations and contributed to the ousting of the Labour-led government at that year’s election.

Over a decade later, Peters remains unrepentant and insists his name was unfairly dragged through the mud, noting that the police, Serious Fraud Office and Electoral Commission all decided against taking action.

But that is not the glowing exoneration he makes it out to be.

While SFO director Grant Liddell said there was no basis for laying fraud charges, he suggested there were unanswered questions about other possible electoral breaches – essentially punting the matter to the police and the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission’s final ruling on the matternoted that the party’s 2007 return was “materially false” but not illegal, as the party secretary had no intention to misstate or conceal the facts, while the 2005 and 2006 returns fell outside of the time limit for prosecution.

Party officials have been leaving the party because they have been put at risk over the financial transactions that they know little about.

It noted specifically that the decision was about the party secretary’s actions only, and not any other members of the party – such as Peters himself.

The police investigation also cleared the party secretary specifically, rather than New Zealand First as a whole.

So Peters claiming exoneration looks farcical, but typical.

Unravelling the claims seems set to take months, rather than days or weeks – and is yet another political toothache that Ardern would rather not be dealing with.

It may run well into election year. Ardern and Labour should be concerned after what happened in 2008.

Stuff: What NZ First slush fund was spent on: Campaign HQ, staff overtime, and a shredder

NZ First officials and MPs were kept in the dark while $38,000 was spent on campaign headquarters and staff overtime by the party’s political slush fund, the New Zealand First Foundation.

Expenses records for the foundation seen by Stuff show it collected more than $500,000 in donations from April 2017 to March 2019 that could be in breach of electoral donation laws, particularly if the foundation was paying party expenses.

Many of these apparent donations to the foundation do not appear on the party’s electoral returns.

Invoices, seen by Stuff, reveal the foundation spent $325,000 in about 18 months to March 2019 – with most of the money appearing to directly benefit the NZ First Party.

This included renting and furnishing the party’s campaign office for the 2017 election as well as advertising material, reimbursements for travel, internet bills, legal advice and consultancy work.

It does not appear this spending was declared to the Electoral Commission by the party.

Nor revealed to many in the party.

One former MP said that discovering details about the foundation “slush fund” undermined the work of NZ First’s volunteer fundraisers.

Former NZ First treasurer Colin Forster said the accounts were disorganised and inaccurate when he took over the role in 2008.

“All of the accounts were all written in a A4 exercise book, like a child would use for school,” he said.

“It would be fair to say they were inaccurate.”

Forster said he had questioned the party’s income at meetings and he could not figure out where the money came from.

“A lot of people have given a lot to this party and they have been kept in the dark.”

In October 2019, Lester Gray resigned from his position as NZ First Party president after refusing to sign off on its financial statements.

Gray said in a letter to the NZ First board that he had not been shown documentation he requested and therefore could not sign off the returns.

“I refuse to sign off the 2019 financial reports with the information I have been provided,” he wrote to the  board.

“As president, the limited exposure I have had to party donations and expenditure leaves me in a vulnerable position.

“This type of operation does not align with my moral and business practice values, and I am therefore not able to support the party any longer.”

Former MPs say the financial reports and party expenses were never presented to members.

NZ First Party presidents – who are ostensibly in charge of the organisational wing of the party – are not welcome at caucus meetings.

While the NZ First constitution states that “the president has the right to attend any party meeting”, a party spokesman said it was a “longstanding convention since the inception of NZ First” that party presidents did not attend caucus.

NZ First are in disarray with ex MPs and officials apparently willing to break the secrecy.

I don’t think that denials and claims by Peters can be trusted.

And given that Peters appears to have maintained secrecy and control along with few cronies, I think the secret buck stops with him.

Stuff: Electoral Commission probes NZF

The Electoral Commission, which oversees electoral law, said it would contact the party this morning following revelations from Stuff around donations to the party’s foundation that were not declared to the commission.

“The documents being referred to in the media have not been shown to the Electoral Commission,” a spokeswoman said.

“We will be contacting NZ First and the New Zealand First Foundation to seek further information.”

$150m to help youth transition from state care

In another pre-budget announcement the Government is putting $150 million to help youth who don’t have family support to transition into work.

RNZ: $150m package to help youth transition from state care

Young people transitioning from state care to independence will no longer be cut off from Government support when they turn 18.

A $150 million dollar transition support service announced today is intended as a safety net for 18-25 year olds who don’t have a family to fall back on.

Children’s Minister Tracey Martin said the new service would help some 3000 young people over the next four years.

“We know that young people leaving care often have high needs. By definition they’ve had a rough start – it is hard, it is traumatic for any child to be separated from their parents.

“The care experience young people involved in the design of the new service said that they felt lonely and isolated after their time in care and often didn’t know how to get the help that they needed.”

The minister said that young people who have left the state’s care and protection have in the past ended up with worse outcomes in nearly every key area including health, housing and incomes.

“Teenagers leaving care should have the right to expect what any young person would want – knowing there is someone to turn to if they need help; a warm bed to sleep in; some help and encouragement when it is needed.

“This service will provide that, both by allowing young people to stay longer with their caregivers and providing specialised transitions support workers whose job is to help this group.”

Oranga Tamariki has been tasked with building the service, which will employ 175 new specialist staff employed and make 60 supported accommodation facilities available by year four.

Twenty-five million dollars will go towards supporting young people live with their caregiver beyond the age of 18, and $9 million to help the transition from care to independence, up to the age of 25.

Young people were engaged with in the design of the transition service, which would largely be provided by NGOs, iwi and Māori organisations.

Making the investment now reduced the risk of personal cost to the young people and would help break the cycle of families needing state care.

Nearly 30 per cent of children in care have parents who had also been in care, Ms Martin said.

The new services include:

  • 175 new specialist transition support staff by year four providing day-to-day support to individual young people as they transition out of care
  • 60 supported accommodation places by year four for young people who need a stepping stone to make a successful transition to independent living
  • $25 million over four years to support arrangements for young people to continue to live with their caregiver beyond the age of 18
  • $9 million over four years to provide advice and assistance to individual young people transitioning from care to independence, up to the age of 25.

 

Minister for Children Tracey Martin on Oranga Tamariki taking newborn babies from mothers

Minister for Children Tracey Martin was interviewed on Newshub Nation this morning, and was asked about the jump in the number of newborn Maori babies being taken from their parents by Oranga Tamariki in the last three years.

On Newshub Nation: Simon Shepherd interviews Minister for Children Tracey Martin

Simon Shepherd: Minister for Children Tracey Martin, Thanks for your time this morning. So, we’ve seen this jump in the number of newborn Maori babies being taken from their parents in the last three years. Is that because it’s a directive from Oranga Tamariki to get involved earlier?

Tracey Martin: First of all – two things – between 2015 and 2017, certainly, there was an increase in the uplift of babies. Between 2017 and 2018, there’s been a decrease. In the Waikato, there’s been a decrease; in the Hawke’s Bay, there’s been an increase. So none of this is just a standard ‘we’re going in and picking up babies’, which is a little bit what is being portrayed across the media at the moment.

Okay. But there has been— I mean, let’s just talk about those figures. Maori babies in the first seven days, between 2015 and 2016 – 164 in those two years. Bring it forward, 2017, 2018 – 230. And that’s in the first seven days of a newborn. And in the first three months, there’s been a 33% increase.

Sure. And I would think that some of this is around the ‘subsequent baby’ situation, which was a piece inside the Oranga Tamariki legislation put in by the previous government. I believe that the intent of that insertion was appropriate – which means that what we’re talking about here is that the mum, the parents, have already had a child that has been removed due to neglect or violence or other issues, and then they now have another baby coming. So what the intent of that legislation was was – is the second child, the subsequent child, safe?

Okay. You talk about measurable outcomes in this legislation. So what are these measurable outcomes? Are you going to put targets in place to reduce the number of Maori in care?

I don’t like targets; that’s the first thing.

So that’s a no?

Yeah, because that says that there’s an acceptable level. I want to see a reduction of— And actually, something like 80% of the Maori children who are in the care of the Oranga Tamariki are living in whanau placements. So they’re not inside care and protection areas or anything like that. They are with whanau, but the CE still technically has legal guardianship rights over them.

Well, if you look at the statistics, 59% of children in care are Maori, and yet Maori are 15% of the population.

That’s right.

Would it not be a goal to say it would be actually representative of the population?

Oh, absolutely. It’s a wonderful goal for it to be representative of the population. But let’s be clear –Oranga Tamariki cannot change all the social ills; Oranga Tamariki’s job is to protect children.

Okay, so, that case has been in the headlines, but I’ve talked to other social agencies, and they’ve given me an example of a 17-year-old who had a baby, went to have a shower after three hours and came back, and the baby had been taken.

Is that in Oranga Tamariki’s time?

Yeah. In the last year, yeah.

Right. So I would be very interested if people— In the same way that I have made the offer to Jean through the MP Meka Whaitiri, I would be very interested for them to actually email me specifically about those cases.

Okay. You talk about measurable outcomes in this legislation. So what are these measurable outcomes? Are you going to put targets in place to reduce the number of Maori in care?

I don’t like targets; that’s the first thing.

So that’s a no?

Yeah, because that says that there’s an acceptable level. I want to see a reduction of— And actually, something like 80% of the Maori children who are in the care of the Oranga Tamariki are living in whanau placements. So they’re not inside care and protection areas or anything like that. They are with whanau, but the CE still technically has legal guardianship rights over them.

Well, if you look at the statistics, 59% of children in care are Maori, and yet Maori are 15% of the population.

That’s right.

Would it not be a goal to say it would be actually representative of the population?

Oh, absolutely. It’s a wonderful goal for it to be representative of the population. But let’s be clear –Oranga Tamariki cannot change all the social ills; Oranga Tamariki’s job is to protect children.

Full transcript: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1905/S00273/the-nation-minister-for-children-tracey-martin.htm

Government considering mandatory classifications for streaming services

This looks like being too late and impractical, especially for overseas streaming services .

NZ Herald: NZ Government mulling mandatory classification rules for Netflix and other streaming services

The Government is exploring the possibility of making classifications for on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix and Lightbox, mandatory.

What about Youtube? Facebook?

What about live streaming? That’s where one of the biggest problems is with objectionable material.

Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin said this would bring streaming services in line with other forms of media in New Zealand.

The Government today started consultation on options on classifying content that is available online.

“The way in which New Zealanders access entertainment has changed and New Zealand’s classifications system is not keeping pace.”

It is nowhere near the mark and it’s hard to see how it could keep pace, with the amount of content that becomes available.

She said the current classification system was built around traditional platforms, such as cinema-released films and broadcast television programmes.

The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act was passed in 1993.

But the media landscape has changed significantly since then.

“Many commercial video-on-demand services do self-classify content under a voluntary scheme provided by the New Zealand Media Council,” Martin said.

But, she added, those classifications had not always been consistent with New Zealand’s regime and some streaming service providers chose not to participate in the voluntary scheme.

“This inconsistency means it can be confusing for parents trying to pick something for their kids to watch or that helps young people make informed choices.”

The only way any sort of consistency could be achieved is if all content was checked and classified by one entity, like the New Zealand Censor. A recent classification by our censor of the streamed video of the Christchurch mosque massacres was generally supported, but the classification of the killer’s manifesto was controversial.

Martin said it was the risk of children being harmed that had driven the process.

Research from the Chief Censor’s office shows 76 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about children’s and teens’ exposure to visual media content.

Classifying material before it becomes available would be hard enough, but how do you then ensure children don’t watch restricted material. Banned content is only a small part of the problem.

Martin said the reaction to the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”, which features graphic suicide scenes and scenes of rape, was an example of the issue.

“As with many services and media that have developed from the internet, this issue of classification is one that many countries are looking at and the Censor has told me that there is international interest in what we are doing.

“Our work will also be informed by the steps being taken in Australia and the United Kingdom.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Netflix gets approval to classify own shows after two-year trial.

The Morrison government has given Netflix the green light to regulate film and television classification on its streaming platform in an unprecedented shift following a two-year trial.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield approved the ongoing use of the scheme, which allows the company to quickly rank content between G and R18+ after the review was finalised in August.

The new system removes immediate control of classifications for movies from the Classification Board for the first time since it was established in 1970.

The Classification Board will retain the power to change the ratings made under the new system, and decisions can also be appealed to the Classification Review Board.

Free-to-air stations already classify their own programming under a process administered by another organisation, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Ratings are generated by considering the film’s themes, level of violence, sex, drug use, nudity and the language — before being given a classification of G, PG, M, MA15, R18 or being refused.

UK: BBFC Digital Age Ratings

People are concerned to know about how best to choose appropriate films, TV and music videos for their children and families to watch online, on their computers, tablets, games consoles and smartphones.

To provide you with guidance, the BBFC works with a number of on demand services to give age ratings for video content available for download and streaming.

Some of these platforms also provide parental controls, enabling parents to make films with an appropriate age rating available to their children

Using BBFC age ratings for online content helps children and families make the same informed viewing choices when they’re using digital video services, as they can when they’re going to the cinema or renting or buying DVDs and Blu-ray.

Classifications would help responsible parents who can control everything their children watch, but there are big holes in the system. This has been a problem since VCR and DVD content became available – and kids found and watched their parents’ collections.

Classifications have long been a problem. I remember wearing a coat over my school uniform and being allowed in to watch A Clockwork Orange, which in New Zealand was rated R20 until 1984.

The good old days – I don’t remember this one (from Kiwi censorship’s most infamous moments):

Then there was the bizarre decision around the 1967 film adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Little old New Zealand made worldwide headlines for its decision to segregate male and female viewers. Cinemas found their own ways to interpret the law, whether via separate sessions, the use of stalls and circle seating, or even a rope.

And who new that we had political interference?

Film could also provide inspiration for a solution should the eventual decision on Into the River not go the way of public opinion. 1942 film Love on the Dole focuses on a young woman who decides to become a rich bookmaker’s mistress in order help her family through the Great Depression.

It was initially banned, but Government MPs (including the Prime Minister Peter Fraser) pressured the censor into reviewing the decision. However, knowing that the notoriously conservative appeal board were unlikely to make a change, the Government made the simple decision to replace the entire board. Unsurprisingly, the film was passed for general exhibition.

The modern means of (attempted) interference is censorship by social media outrage or instant petition.

Classification guidance would be helpful for some, but it’s unlikely to make a lot of difference – people, including children, are resourceful in finding ways of watching forbidden content.


Taketh and giveth – a Government media release from Friday: Helping more New Zealanders access online services

More New Zealanders than ever will be able to access online services safely and securely, with today’s launch of a new Digital Inclusion Blueprint, Minister Megan Woods has announced.

“In a world where the internet impacts more and more of our lives, it’s important that all New Zealanders have the tools and skills they need to access online services and use the internet safely and securely.

“Some people can’t easily apply for jobs as many recruitment processes start online, kids may be prevented from doing their homework, and others could feel isolated from more digitally savvy friends and family who communicate using social media.  We want to ensure no one is left out or left behind as more and more of our lives move online.

“Today we are launching the Digital Inclusion Blueprint, which lays out how people can take full advantage of the internet. This will help us identify groups of New Zealanders who may struggle to access online services.

“This Blueprint will be used to coordinate the planning of different Government and community initiatives, and identify where future investment and action is needed.

“Access to online service is a key priority is one of my priorities and an area Government has already invested in. For example, the Prime Minister recently announced $21 million funding for Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) in towns to connect local people and businesses to digital services.

 

Consultation on our ageing population

This should be popular here – it must concern all of us as we are all ageing.

RNZ: Consultation opens on govt strategy for aging population

Seniors Minister Tracey Martin opened a consultation to a new strategy that is going to “help older New Zealanders live well”.

The draft strategy, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, has been designed to ensure New Zealand is prepared for and makes the most of our aging population.

The strategy incorporates feedback from nationwide consultation last year about what people what for the future.

The key areas of the strategy are supporting seniors in the workforce and how business can better recruit and retain older people; and promoting housing options appropriate for older people, Ms Martin said.

Super Seniors (MSD):  Strategy for an ageing population


Draft new strategy

The draft new startegy, and a summary, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, takes a fresh look at what is required to ensure New Zealand has the right policies in place and is prepared for an ageing population.

We would like to hear your feedback about the draft strategy. Please:

Feedback closes at midnight on 3 June 2019.

Summary of submissions report

This report summarises what people told us was important and what the new strategy for an ageing population should cover. The report highlights the significant themes raise by submitters during the public consultation that occurred between June and August 2018.

Our population is ageing

Population growth

We have developed short snapshots on key topics:

We’ve asked some experts to tell us what they think that future looks like. We’ll be publishing these over the coming weeks. The following are available now:

If you have any questions, queries or feedback, contact us at ageing_population@msd.govt.nz

Tracey Martin alleges National organised ‘troll’ attack on Andrew Little

I’m not sure why this has come out now, but NZ First MP and Cabinet Minister Tracey Martin has said she witnessed a troll attack being organised by a National MP against Andrew Little when he was Labour leader.

NZ Herald:  Cabinet Minister alleges that National MP directed trolls to attack former Labour leader Andrew Little

New Zealand First MP and Cabinet Minister Tracey Martin says she personally witnessed a National Party MP instructing online “trolls” to attack a political opponent.

Martin will not name the MP, but says she watched him direct a group of supporters on Facebook to personally attack then-Labour leader Andrew Little while they were sharing a domestic flight during the election campaign.

“During the 2017 election I was on a plane and there was another Member of Parliament sitting in front of me.”

“… I watched this person in front of me, who was running a group of 15 trolls on Facebook, give them the messages that they needed to start bombarding the other party that they were trying to have an effect on.

“The messages they sent changed the outcome of the election. It wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, but that was what they were attempting to do.

That’s referring to Little standing down as leader. Did a few messages in social media cause that? I doubt it.

“They personalised the messages to try and get one individual to feel so uncomfortable about their position that they removed themselves from it.”

Martin told the Herald after her speech that she was certain of what she saw on the plane. She told her colleagues about the National MP’s actions but did not consider any further action or making a complaint.

“It won’t be a shock to anybody that it’s a political tool. I wouldn’t be surprised if Labour runs similar groups of people.

“But we need to decide whether that’s appropriate, because they run personal attacks against either the leadership or individual MPs in the name of politics.

This is hardly shocking. MPs and parties, and political activists, have run campaigns against political opponents for a long time.

It may happen more with social media. It has certainly widened to attacks on anyone involved in politics. Social media can be a fairly knarly political environment, but I have noticed a number of times a distinctly different, specific attack line on myself when I have raised issues on both Labour leaning The Standard and National leaning Kiwiblog. You get to recognise things like this when certain anonymous identities get involved in sustained attempts to discredit and divert.

Should we be concerned?

“I don’t think it’s reasonable or appropriate behaviour for any adult to be creating a group of others to specific target a single individual. If a young person did that, we’d all be calling it bullying.”

From my experience most political forum bullying comes from numpties who seem to see sustained attacks as some sort of game of attrition.

Party initiated attacks are less common, hence they stand out. Some have involved insidious threats.

There’s not much that can be done to prevent this, apart from pointing out when it happens – so I don’t know why Martin has waited until now to tell her story. Standing up to the political attackers and doing what can be done to hold to account is best done at the time.

I don’t think that the Harmful Digital Communications Act is the right thing to use to address political attacks. Sunlight is the best way of dealing with them.

 

Hauhama report delayed

It was highly questionable that Tracey Martin should have been put in charge of the inquiry into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Hauhama. She  received the inquiry report a week ago, but is not releasing it. She is under increasing pressure from critics, which seems fair enough.

Newsroom:  Release of Haumaha report delayed

The controversy over the investigation into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha continues this week as the release of the findings are delayed.

Haumaha’s appointment to one of the top policing jobs was called into question following revelations he backed police officers accused of raping Louise Nicholas.

Bullying allegations from 2016 then surfaced, and are now subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

The investigation into the process of Haumaha’s appointment had a false start due to a conflict of interest, and was then extended, but has now concluded.

However, the findings are yet to be released.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said she was the only one who had a copy of the report. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also aware of the findings, she said. And Cabinet met on Monday to discuss the release of the report.

But a wider circle of people involved – including the Police Commissioner – had not seen the report, and would not be briefed until those mentioned in the report had the chance to see it, Martin said.

It had now been almost a week since the Minister received the report, and the opposition is accusing her of cynically delaying the release as Parliament approaches a two-week recess.

This looks increasingly messy.

 

The Learning Support Coordinator announcement

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin announced a school based Learning Support Coordinator programme, with funding for up to 600 coordinators (who will be trained teachers) to be funded from next year’s budget spread over four years, as a ‘first tranche’ in dealing with special learning and behavioural needs in schools.

Generally this looks like a good plan, but it may be spread thinly as there are four times as many schools as there will be coordinators. Ardern has ‘promised’ to double the number of coordinators if the budget allows.

From Prime Minister’s speech to 2018 Labour Party Conference

Today, I am announcing that we’ll be employing a new workforce of approximately 600 Learning Support Coordinators to work alongside teachers across the entire country.

Their job will be to make sure that children with extra needs are identified.  They’ll work alongside classroom teachers to ensure kids with high and complex physical needs get the support they deserve.

This will be a game changer for those children.

It will be a game changer for teachers, who’ve been crying out for these roles, so they’re freed up to do what they do best – teach.

And it’s a game changer for those children who don’t need additional learning support, who’ll get more quality learning time with their teachers.

These coordinators – similar to what we now call SENCOs – are part of a new way of doing things and have been developed by my New Zealand First colleague and Associate Minister of Education, Tracey Martin, through the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan.

But teachers have been urging governments for some time for this kind of role to be dedicated and fully funded. And for good reason.

At the moment schools ask their existing teaching staff to do the work of Special Education Coordinators.  But teachers tell us this is a drain on their time and takes them away from their classroom teaching.

That’s why these coordinators will not only do that job for them, they will also support teachers, with professional advice and guidance about how to teach children with additional needs.

But more than that – these new roles will give parents a single point of contact with someone who understands the needs of their child, and will advocate for them as they move through their time in the school.

This is a big change.

It will mean investing $217 million over four years – and these 600 fully funded Learning Support Coordinators are just the start.

Beehive release: New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

An odd headline, describing it as a ‘workforce’.

The Coalition Government will fund a new workforce of educational professionals who will work in schools to ensure children with diverse learning needs get the support they need to learn, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

In a game-changer for students, parents and teachers, approximately 600 Learning Support Coordinators will be employed as early as the beginning of 2020. This will be the first tranche of these positions.

They will work alongside teachers, parents and other professionals to give our students the individualised support they deserve.

The new Learning Support Coordinators are a win-win; kids with both high and moderate needs will get on-the-ground support, parents will have a specialised point of contact and teachers will have more time to teach.

“This $217 million investment over four years follows a major spending increase in Budget 2018, and brings the extra funding the Coalition Government has put into learning support to half a billion dollars. That is a huge investment in our first year into supporting both our kids and our teachers.

“One in five New Zealand children has a disability or other learning and behavioural needs and it’s been too hard, for too long, for them to get support at the right time. Learning support has been neglected for more than a decade.

The announcement delivers on a number of the 26 recommendations from the Labour, New Zealand First and Green parties’ minority report to the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Inquiry in the last Parliament.  It is also consistent with the Labour and Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement.

“Learning Support Coordinators will be key people at the heart of a new learning support model, developed by Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin, through her draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan,” said Jacinda Ardern.

Tracey Martin said today’s announcement would go a long way to delivering for those students with additional and diverse learning needs.

“The Government is progressing its plan to ensure every child with barriers to learning has access to the tools and professionals they need,” Tracey Martin said.

“For too long these students have been poorly served by an underfunded system. Our targeted investments, along with our work to streamline the support system, will reduce the issues parents and teachers face and lead to better student wellbeing.

“These coordinators will be a specialised point of contact for parents with someone who understands their child’s unique learning needs. They’ll also provide expert assistance for teachers.

“They will work alongside classroom teachers to ensure all students with needs – including disabilities, neurodiversity, behavioural issues and giftedness – get the support they should expect.

“We’ve been piloting and refining the new Learning Support Delivery Model in a number of places and regions and the goal is to have it ready to be rolled out across the country by the end of 2019.

This has been an issue since special needs children and those with learning difficulties have been integrated into schools. They can take a lot of time from teachers from general teaching, and can be disruptive in class.

Sounds good as a start, but it will take a couple of years to get it up and running.

More Hauhama links to NZ First revealed

The controversy over the appointment of Wally Hauhama grows, with more links to NZ First revealed. The appointment of a new chair for the inquiry into his appointment will be closely scrutinised, after NZ First MP Tracey Martin tried to defend her appointment of Pauline Kingi until Kingi stepped aside.

It was already known that Hauhama came close to being an NZ First candidate in 2005 (until his wife stole $24,000 to replace money she gambled from his campaign fund).

But the Herald have been digging, and finding a number of other links between Hauhama and NZ First.

NZH:  NZ First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau’s ‘whānau’, marae links to Wally Haumaha

New family links between New Zealand First and controversial deputy police commissioner appointment Wally Haumaha have emerged, as one of the party’s senior ministers looks to restart the inquiry into the process which led to his promotion.

Fletcher Tabuteau, the deputy leader of New Zealand First, comes from Waiteti Marae in Ngongotaha near Rotorua, of which Haumaha is the chairman.

They are both Ngāti Ngāraranui and Tabuteau referred to Haumaha as a member of his whānau in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2014.

Tabuteau’s uncle Tommy Gear – a close friend of Winston Peters – is a trustee of the Ngāti Ngāraranui Hapu Trust along with Haumaha.

Gear and Haumaha are senior leaders on the Waiteti Marae, where a special function was held in June last year to celebrate Haumaha’s promotion to assistant police commissioner.

New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was one of the speakers at the function, along with Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Hauhama was appointed before NZ First helped Labour form a government last year, so they wouldn’t have been involved in his appointment – other than celebrating it.

Haumaha’s appointment became controversial after the Herald revealed comments he made in support of fellow officers involved in historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.

When the Herald broke the news in June, Peters was the Acting Prime Minister.

He announced an inquiry would be held into the process of Haumaha’s promotion to deputy commissioner and appointed Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin – a longtime New Zealand First member like Tabuteau – to oversee the inquiry.

That’s where it gets tricky for NZ First.

At the time, Peters and Martin both downplayed Haumaha’s link to New Zealand First.

They have both handled this poorly.

Martin said she could not see any conflict of interest.

“I’m setting up an independent Government inquiry, and that means that I will receive recommendations of a person to led that inquiry from Crown Law,” Martin told The Nation.

“I will appoint that person, they will run that inquiry completely independent from me, and it’s about a process, not a person.”

But the process of due diligence looks to have been severely flawed.

Martin, Peters and NZ First should make sure that anyone recommended to lead the inquiry now can not be linked to NZ First in any appreciable way, or this mess will get worse for them.


This also shows the degree of connection between NZ First MPs. Martin has been an MP since 2011 and was deputy leader for several years. Her mother was close to Peters and involved with the administration party.

Tabuteau is now the deputy leader and also works closely with peters as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He and his family also have close links to Peters.

Kingi steps down, Martin grizzles, move on

I think that despite ongoing support from NZ First MPs Tracey Martin and Winston Peters, Pauline Kingi had little choice but to step down from her role as chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Chief Police Commissioner.

Yesterday she did this. Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin announced it in Parliament yesterday.

Newsroom: Pauline Kingi steps down over LinkedIn endorsements

Dr. Pauline Kingi has stepped down as the chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Chief Police Commissioner.

Haumaha’s appointment has been mired in controversy since it emerged he had a close relationship with the police officers accused of raping Bay of Plenty woman, Louise Nicholas when she was a teenager. Two of the officers, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, were later convicted of the rape of a Mount Maunganui woman.

The appointment was also controversial as Haumaha had once been selected to stand for New Zealand First, although he withdrew his candidacy before he ran.

The appointment of Kingi, a prominent Māori lawyer and community leader, was announced on July 23.

But it emerged on Tuesday that Kingi had endorsed Haumaha 23 times on the social networking site, LinkedIn. The endorsements from an account in the name of Kingi endorsed Haumaha’s skills in 23 areas, including leadership, public sector and public safety.

Martin had a grizzle in Parliament.

However, it is with regret that I have to inform the House that Dr Pauline Kingi advised the Government just before I came to the House that she is going to stand down from the inquiry and to the appointment process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police. Ever since she was appointed to the role, she has been the subject of political attack.

Those have been attacks on her integrity, attacks on her reputation, and even attacks on her legal qualification. Dr Kingi has a 28-year career in public service as both a community member and senior public servant, and as a lawyer. She was asked to perform a public duty, and yet became the subject of an undue and unwarranted criticism.

Ms Kingi resigned because of disgusting accusations by the Opposition that impinged on her integrity, based on a LinkedIn profile, which is a social media account that has been shown, and advice has been received, does not—[Interruption]

Winston Peters joined in:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Should people who have offered to fill a public office be the subject of vituperation, defamatory statements and comments, and have their integrity challenged purely for a venal political purpose?

Hypocrisy hyperdrive – how often has Winston challenged the integrity of how many people for venal political purpose over the years?

The challenges on Kingi may have been overhyped, but this is a mess largely of Martin’s and NZ First’s own making.

It marked an inglorious end to Winston’s tenure as acting Prime Minister.

I suspect that Jacinda Ardern will be relieved this is largely over before she takes charge again today.