Thursday, October 27, 2011

Responsive Pedagogy: engaging restoratively with challenging behaviour

Attended the launch of an edited collection 'Responsive Pedagogies' at the University of Canterbury last Friday. Good turnout, a bit hot and stuff in the library, second floor, no beer and lots of wine. I drifted off after about 10 minutes and browsed the new book shelf, finding 'Planning in ten words: a Lacanian Entanglement with Spatial Planning' that sparked some quick note taking on risk and danger for our Maori Resilience thru the Ru Whenua project at Lincoln University.

The work is by Michael Gunder and Jean Hillier, and it starts with a nice diss of planning as an empty signifier. Decisions - planning - turn dangers into risks. Indeed it is only possible to talk about 'risk' when the occurrence of an event is connected to a decision. This sets up a haunting by the decision not made, by the possibilities rejected: the future is spectral.

Gunder and Hillier recommend the explicit incorporation of uncertainty as a 'core ontological' state of a qualitative, rather than a merely quantitative (and hence supposedly measurable) world. It is this approach that may gel with kaupapa Maori...

Anyways, here's another of my fuzzy mid-range Smart Phone pic of the view from the back.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why aren't we talking about revolution?

Given the major - dare I say seismic - shifts in the fault lines of the world's main economies, it is curious how quiet we are here in Aotearoa. Recent reports on children living in poverty were perhaps doomed to drown amongst the rugby following but I know rugby followers are not heartless. Homelessness? Mana Party has flagged this an a fundamental platform for the upcoming election, but the relevant policy has been Facebooked 4 times, Tweeted once, 'Liked' twice and Google +1's once (by me, as it happens. I got into Google +1 through a '+'ing by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei...): hardly a ringing endorsement. Slave conditions on Foreign Charter Vessels? I've had no conversations about it...indebted national accounts? well, plenty of chatter on but no ones' seriously pledging to stop this.

Front page of the Star Sunday Times quotes NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eequb in undermining any justification for Aotearoans' being disgruntled: our wages are trending up (oh, bar the recession); wages doing better than corporate profits; unemployment not as bad as the 1990s (for Maori, it actually is much worse) or 1930s; inequality 'broadly stable'(yay). Eaqub says "The fight against the 'system' is not statistically justified in New Zealand. ... I haven't seen anything in the data that suggests massive increases in inequality or inequity."

As the numbers accrue and we see that yes, the rich have yet again become magically richer - those animal spirits, ne? - and the poor, poorer, do we all somehow assume that trickle down will kick in to preserve itself? And if not, how do redistribute wealth in the face of massive state and corporate structuring of ongoing and increasing inequality?

Recent protests - marked by the tactic of occupying financial districts - petered out here rather quickly, and the worst effects of the Global Financial Crisis are yet to strike. But if we aren't even talking 'bout revolution, then how do we secure bloodless change?

But an educated guess: not only will the revolution not be televised, it won't require statistical justifications.

'How to start a revolution'

'The Revolution Business'

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disease affecting Southland kanakana/lamprey

This from MAF: 


Kanakana, or lamprey, in the Mataura River have become affected by a bacterial disease.

The bacteria is no risk to human health, however we advise people not to eat kanakana or other fish that look unusual or unhealthy.

We have provisionally identified the bacteria as Aeromonas salmonicida and are completing full testing to identify the exact strain and understand its significance. This bacteria has not been identified in New Zealand before. Full results are expected by late October.

We are also stepping up monitoring programmes in Southland and working with Environment Southland, commercial fisheries, recreational and customary fishers of kanakana, and recreational water users to find out if other waterways and fish are affected.

Until more information is confirmed, fishers and river users are reminded to be vigilant to check, clean and dry their equipment and clothing between waterways.

To date, there are no signs the bacteria is affecting other species. It is known to affect salmon, trout, eel, and whitebait and could affect native fish such as kokopu.

Kanakana with the bacteria are likely to have:
  • red and/or swollen fins
  • red and/or swollen marks that look like bruises or blood clots.

If anyone finds sick or dead kanakana or any other fish with these symptoms, they can phone the MAF hotline (0800 80 99 66) who will advise what to do next, such as collecting them for testing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The angle of vanishing stability

Lovely term from yet another ship's captain, via the bright box in the corner of the room, pertaining to Aotearoa's worse maritime environmental disaster.

'Tis all quite patterned by now me hearty's...

Listen to the Minister of Defence justifying the MoD's decision to delay its own report until it had digested (cribbed?) the UN report into abuses of Afghani prisoner's captured or otherwise handled by NZ SAS. How thin have we cut the State carcass?

This government's credibility ebbs by the day, and when the end comes, it'll be like any capsize: quick and deadly, sucking down all in its orbit. Over the angle of vanishing stability.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ideas are like hillocks on a landscape

"It is simply common sense at its best – rigidly accurate in observation and merciless to fallacy in logic."

Thomas Huxley, who had Darwin's back when he was propounding his theory on natural selection.

I like this as well...
"In the early stages of research, ideas are like hillocks on a landscape. So you design experiments to discriminate among them. Most hillocks shrink and disappear until, in the end, you are left with a single towering pinnacle of virtual certitude."

How did it all come to this....worse Aotearoa/New Zealand maritime environmental disaster

The recent squirming performance of our Prime Minister (in response to contrary accounts of Standard and Poor's recent downgrading of NZ's credit rating), the tortured experiences of many Christchurch residents, the tragic revelations in the Pike River coalmine disaster, and now the fumbling response to the grounded cargo vessel in the Bay of Plenty leaves me feeling somewhat disturbed at the vacuum in leadership in this country.  How did it all come to this?

I can't help but feel we have reached yet another crossroads in our history.

Essentially Aotearoa/NZ is bereft of leadership, infrastructure, and vision, a perfect storm that will hopefully sideline the incompetent, the dishonest, and the corrupt and enable the rise of informed, committed, dynamic and visionary people.

This is also coming through in our research on Ru Whenua, with several informants arguing that the arrival of head office (often from Wellington) lead to a slowing in response efforts. Too many middle and senior managers just don't have the talent or the courage to make a call that others will respect and follow. Our technological and expertise capcity is seriously degraded, with many disaster responses reliant on equipment and experise sourced from offshore leading to frustrating delays in time-sensitive responses.

And our leaders seem to lack the words, the insight, and the commitment to a) solve and b) prevent future recurrences. While the Labour Party must now regret not replacing the misfiring Phil Goff a year ago, we go in to an election with little analysis, poor coverage, and few options.

But I sense a growing disillusion, even anger.

This may yet be an interesting wee election...

Check out:'Worst NZ Maritime environmental disaster'

'Iwi place rahui'

Monday, October 10, 2011

Background to Maori experiences of earthquakes

The city of Christchurch, New Zealand, (Otautahi being its Maori name) experienced a series of earthquakes beginning on September 4th, 2010, with 7.1 magnitude quake that resulted in no deaths but significant damage to many buildings. It was a smaller (M 6.3) but shallower and therefore more severe quake on February 22nd, 2011, that was the most damaging, killing 181 people and causing widespread destruction in the CBD as well as significant damage to thousands of residential properties in some areas. Another M 6.3 quake on June 13th led to just one related death but wrought further structural damage but provoked considerable fear and distress to many residents. Between these major quakes, and following the June 13th event, were thousands of aftershocks, several over magnitude 5.0, a ‘seismic event’ in the words of geologists whose esoteric work became very familiar to many concerned citizens.

As settlers of a geologically active country, both Maori and Pakeha (the descendents of European, primarily British, settlers) are reasonably aware of earthquake risk, with a 1931 disaster being the most significant occurrence (though no longer in the living memory of most) that resulted in 256 deaths, many from the resulting fires in the primarily wooden city. A major volcanic eruption (Tarawera) near Taupō occurred about 200 AD, incinerating an area of approximately 20,000 square kilometres (McSaveney, Stewart, and Leonard 2011). New Zealand was not settled by Maori at this time; dating of the event is from the observations around the world.

Rangitoto, located adjacent to New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, this is the youngest and largest of that region’s volcanic cones. Māori living there would have witnessed its formation, as dating methods show the eruption occurred around 1400 AD. Stone tools have been found under ash deposits, and footprints found within the ash.

Remains of lava eruption on Rangitoto. Auckland city in the background

Archaeological evidence has revealed artefacts on and around Mt Taranaki between ash deposits from eruptions that took place around 1450, 1500 and 1655. Local Māori oral history speaks of a settlement destroyed in one eruption.

White Island (Whakaari) is New Zealand’s most active volcano, constantly venting steam and gases, and features in local Maori histories. Sulfur deposits were once mined until a collapsing crater wall killed 11 miners in 1914 (ibid.).

There was a significant eruption of Mt Tarawera around 1314 AD, depositing ash over a wide area. However, Tarawera is better known for its 1886 eruption. The official death toll was 150, although the number was more likely between 108 and 120 people (McSaveney, Stewart, and Leonard 2011). Local Maori communities suffered, and the event is also notable for indicators (in the days before Mt Tarawera erupted there was an increase in hot spring activity) and an omen with Māori and Pākehā tourists reporting a phantom Māori war canoe sailing across Lake Tarawera, and surges in the water.

These histories form an important back drop to this research, but they are jst the starting point of a Maori perspective. The ‘seismic event’ of geology is leading to seismic changes in many areas, not least among affected Maori whanau, kura (schools), organisations, and businesses. Many businesses have either closed or have lost customers, unemployment increased, schools have reported rolls dropping by up to 20%, domestic violence, gambling, and drinking have all increased, and people are reporting levels of stress and insecurity.

The networks of economic, social, and cultural support form the primary focus of our research.

New Lincoln website on Maori resilience to the earthquakes...

Kia ora koutou,
We now have our own web representation on Lincoln University's site for our research project, "Māori Resilience through the Otautahi 'quakes: the roleand future prospects of economic, cultural and environmental networks".

This site will ultimately provide space for a range of research projects that inform Maori resilience, beginning with the Lincoln project to examine the response and recovery of  Maori networks to the recent devastating earthquakes (and we had another large aftershock last night, measuring magnitude 5.5!).

Please feel free to visit this site and add comments. We are currently interviewing selected informants and will be presenting preliminary results soon. We will use our Lincoln pages to keep people updated and informed of our progress on what is an important issue, namely how to enhance Maori disaster preparedness.

Maori network resilience model (after McDaniels et al. 2008)
Simon Lambert

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