Wednesday, October 22, 2014

David Seymour's maiden speech

Well worth a read:

Mr Speaker,
I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in reply to His Excellency’s speech.
“I never knew that I was smart until I came here.”  For the avoidance of doubt I’m not referring to this house, Mr Speaker, but quoting from a student I met last week at the Vanguard Military School, a Partnership School, or Kura Hourua.
There could not have been a better entre to my first speech in this house than meeting that student.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Amateurish reporting

Headline says:

Govt 'playing the figures' on welfare


The quarterly September benefit data was released last Friday.

Mostly it's positive.

But the Manawatu Standard found someone to disagree:

Lew Findlay, co-ordinator of Shepherd's Rest, which helps people struggling to find housing, thought it was the wrong time of the year to be releasing the statistics. "They play the figures." As the summer comes closer, people are able to go off the welfare system, opting for seasonal work, he said. "We have had nine people who have left Shepherd's Rest because they found work." Four of the former residents found casual labouring work under the Government's "$3K to Christchurch" scheme. A more accurate number would be found during "the middle of winter", he said.

Well you can have winter, spring, summer or autumn figures Lew. Take your pick. But perhaps the journalist might be expected to make the point.

"Council rules and obsructive nonsense"

Brendan's submission tro the rules reduction team. How many stories like this are out there? Have you got one?

Dear team at DIA

Thanks for taking submissions on this subject.

A couple of years ago I wanted to build a boat shed extension on our beach house holiday home at Patons Rock, Takaka located in the Tasman District.  We had to consult with four different groups including local IWI and of all people, the Historic places trust in order to obtain consent.

At our expense a representative from the Historic Places trust flew out from Wellington to take 'soil samples' of the proposed site to determine if he needed to be present at the foundation excavations.  He duly reported that he did need to be present again when we stared the foundations.  When questioned as to what he found, he reported that he had found evidence of shells and bones. 

When I pointed out that this was a beach front property, and asked what he expected to find, it made no difference.  In his view this was a possible Maori midden.

So we paid up again, and he was present at the foundations dig, and to no-ones surprise he found nothing, about which he duly wrote a report, for which we once again had to pay.

But this was just the beginning of our experience.

Our holiday home was a three bedroom property with a small workshop.  In order to make it more functional, I cleaned out the workshop, put down some carpet and installed a couple of bunks.

Upon noticing this, the Council stated that we needed to upgrade our waste water system because we had gone from three to four bedrooms - the cost for the new system was $25,000.00.

I said, no problem, we will just revert back to a workshop and the few times a year when the grand children would have slept on bunks, they can sleep on the floor in the lounge or in a tent outside just as they did previously.

No, apparently once they have decided that the room *can* be used as a bedroom, it is forever a bedroom.

I tried to reason with them stating that it had absolutely no bearing on the number of people we had to stay in the house, and the existing waste water system was perfectly functional.  

Getting no where, I asked the Council staff member if I could make a written submission to the planning manager.  He appeared surprised that someone would take such a step, but never the less he provided the contact details.  I rehearsed my story in a three page letter, with the result that we now have a nice new $25,000 waste water system.

And of course the boat shed for which we originally started the consent process.

I understand the need for guidelines, but there appears to be zero flexibility or common sense used by all the decision makers in this process, from the Historic Places Trust representative, through to the Council planners. I might add that there is very little empathy shown for people like myself who are being forced to pay an additional $25K for a new system that we simply didn't need. 

It's a cultural change as much as anything that's needed. Good luck with that.

Kind regards
Brendan McNeill

Population pyramid - really useful tool

From Statistics NZ this new population pyramid is a really useful tool. It saves looking up population estimates or historical tables.

Between the years of 1936 and 2016 you can access any year with gender and age breakdown instantly. Moving up and down the timescale also allows you to see how the demographics are changing. Like it.

Now I want a version by ethnicity.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rules reduction - SAY SOMETHING

From Scoop

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett has today launched the Rules Reduction initiative, opening the way for people to submit examples of property regulations and local rules that don’t make sense.


There is a link to a submission form.


To Whom it may concern

Below are matters that have angered or bemused us over the past few years. I cannot name specific rules concerned but they cover a number of areas. We live in Eastbourne.

Street services
It was enormously frustrating dealing with Hutt Council Street Services when applying for consent to build a replacement garage. Despite us proposing a roller door as opposed to the existing angle open door, and there being no footpath on our side of the road, we were told to push the new structure further back or side ways. Logic or reason was absent. The staff attitude when dealing face-to-face was rude and arrogant.

Grass verges
Then there's the trees on the grass verge WE maintain. Natives dropping dying branches on cars, we couldn't be trusted to prune them or pay someone else to prune them. Again the attitude of the council was utterly unreasonable.

When you find a local dog roaming, know its owner by sight but not where the owner lives, the council won't provide a contact for them insisting on collecting the dog and taking it to the pound. Mindless.

No dogs allowed - even leashed - in the main shopping street where people like to visit the library, cafes and ice cream shop combined with walking their dog. The rule sucks and is routinely ignored to no-one's chagrin it would seem.

The waste of money putting not just one sign at the base of one Norfolk tree in Nikau Street to acknowledge and publicise its 'notability' but erecting the same sign at the bottom of each of the six trees all in close proximity. Unnecessary.

The council ordering youngsters down the street to remove a basketball hoop from one of said special trees because it must be protected at all costs. Nuts.

If rules can't be agreed to by a majority (and even that principle  is imperfect) then they should be repealed.

There. It's done and only took a few minutes. (Warning though, I now feel bloody agitated.)


Update: The submission form is - guess what - overly bureaucratic. So I laid out my points in an e-mail and sent it to That is another legitimate avenue to have your say.

And why not send it to me too. I'll post submissions on the blog so we can all appreciate how unrestrainedly and  inanely rules-bound local councils have become.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sole parent and income support status by ethnicity

Compiled from Census 2013 data the following table is self-explanatory. The income support data might relate to any main benefit but a clear correlation exists between the two data sets.


Losing their religion

Religious belief is generally on the decline in NZ.

Looking at the following table though it would appear Maori are losing their religion faster:

Affiliation with at least one religion
By age group, Māori and New Zealand population
2013 Census
  Māori NZ population
Age group (years) Percent
Under 15 39.1 45.7
15–29 41.5 45.6
30–64 58.5 56.3
65 and over 83.6 76.8
Total people 49.3 55.0

Most common religions

For people identifying as Māori living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:
  • The most common religions were Catholic (11.2 percent or 63,996 people), Anglican (10.8 percent or 61,269 people), and Ratana (6.7 percent or 38,268 people).

No religion

For people identifying as Māori living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:
  • 46.3 percent (263,520 people) said they had no religion and 6.5 percent (36,750 people) objected to answering the religion question.
  • By comparison, 41.9 percent of the total New Zealand population said they had no religion.

The trend is even evident amongst Pacific Peoples though much larger numbers remain religious.
Affiliation with at least one religion
By age group, Pacific Peoples, not further defined and Pacific Peoples ethnic groups, and New Zealand population
2013 Census
  Pacific Peoples nfd Pacific Peoples NZ population
Age group (years) Percent
Under 15 63.5 72.9 45.7
15–29 77.8 78.7 45.6
30–64 67.1 85.5 56.3
65 and over 62.5 94.1 76.8
Total people 68.4 79.7 55.0

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Most common religions

For people identifying with the Pacific Peoples, not further defined ethnic group living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:
  • The most common religions were Catholic (16.6 percent), Christian not further defined (8.3 percent), and Presbyterian, Congregational and Reformed (8.0 percent).

No religion

For people identifying with the Pacific Peoples, not further defined ethnic group living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:
  • 24.9 percent said they had no religion and 8.6 percent objected to answering the religion question.
  • By comparison, 17.5 percent of the total Pacific Peoples ethnic group and 41.9 percent of the total New Zealand population said they had no religion.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Welfare dependence due to disability artificially high

There are just over 150,000 people reliant on either the Suported Living Payment or Jobseeker Support (HCD).

In response to my saying 5% of working age people dependent on a 'disability' benefit is high, a commenter says,

"Disability affects 10% of the population. About half of those, are not so affected as to prevent them working, but the other half are.

Whats wrong with these numbers?"

In fact according to Statistics NZ:
"Almost one in four New Zealanders were identified as disabled in 2013, according to the New Zealand Disability Survey released today by Statistics New Zealand. This was up from 20 percent in 2001.

A total of 1.1 million people (24 percent of the population) were identified as disabled. The results show that 11 percent of children and 27 percent of adults were limited in their daily activities by a range of impairments."
Perhaps the dependency rate is too low!

Anyway MSD was sufficiently interested in the growth rate of disability benefit dependence for the following reason,

"The proportion of working-age people receiving a Sickness Benefit, an Invalid’s Benefit or ACC weekly compensation rose from around 1% in the 1970s to 5% in June 2002."

And the Welfare Working Group also investigated.

Broadly speaking, the growth in Sickness Benefit and Invalid’s Benefit numbers was not caused by the population getting sicker or more disabled. A comparison of New Zealand health surveys show that between 1996 and 2006 more people rated their health as excellent or very good; fewer people rated their health as fair or poor; people on average reported better physical functioning scores and better role limitation scores. Overall, general health was improving as measured by steadily improving levels of life expectancy and health expectancy across all major population groups.
The following graph shows (black column) shows what the number dependent would be (40,000) if the prevalence rate  stayed commensurate with 1982. In fact it grew to more than 3x this number.