Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Tenancy Tribunal

Well my day before the Judge or adjudicator has finally come and gone. True, to the best of all justice systems, I don't know the outcome. Funny isn't it? Our justice systems seems to confuse and confound all those not employed as part of it.

However my case was I was evicted! I know me! I don't know what for or why but as I did not have a "fixed term" tenancy agreement I could be booted out for no reason at all.
I was happy to leave as there was beginning to be a bit of a paper war and I guess I was just not" the -right- fit" for the building.

My first digression was not being alcoholic. Sitting round or cracking a beer at 9am or 10am seemed common but not for me.
My second was my lack of understanding recycling.I understand recycling , what doesn't the landlord understand about full bins is amusing. Cos if there is no room in one bin, dammit, I will stick my rubbish in the other bin.
 After all I have seen what they call recycling. There is no money in it.
So despite have three families share on recycling bin , and trying to get us a new bin I was not the popular tenant. Get some new bins so people can recycle and there is room for all the empties as well.
It seems someone has thrown at least one cigarette butt on the ground , (I don't smoke) and there has been the smell of cannabis.
So I am a shocking tenant and was duly evicted. Despite not needing an ambulance or going mad, or wearing an ankle bracelet or any other things except paying my rent on time.

Long short , I was evicted, so left, but I did not give my landlord enough notice to leave. Despite being forced out through the other tenants making it clear they want my flat for their friends to move in.Another tenant from downstairs moved upstairs into mine. No loss of rent at all.

I went to court and Derek the Landlord counter claimed. Well the weasley man actually committed perjury in court and told lies about dumping my stuff and tried to claim costs. I hope he is prosecuted .

I felt heard.There were no grounds for eviction , and his continual being there was grounds for my claim. He was late in filing the rent and maybe fined for that as well.I want half my rent returned, as I felt he contaminated my enjoyment. The lady Judge was sharp and hard and slapped me down for butting in, (actually she threatened to tape my mouth) cos I butted in so often.

However she caught out Derek in trying to charge $30 .00 and hour for his time, when he did not actually do anything, pay for any dumping and if he had the tenancy tribunal pays only $20.00. It was clear that she could see him for being a liar, an annoyance and a cheapskate, who want's to bill but never pay.

I can't wait to get my bond back and a cheque for the lack of enjoyment. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Epic Fail for the National Government.

New Zealand has a problem with alcohol. Never more so has the tension between our drinking culture and the need to change aspects been so evident. The Rugby World Cup, is becoming an glaring example of the disconnect between the promoters of the Cup and alcohol excesses that accompany it, and the medical profession who clean up the mess.
Our Government is colluding with the manufacturers of beer to brand the RWC with it's corporate image. But is it an image we want? Does playing rugby mean you have to consume beer? Or perhaps its really just becoming a big turn off.
Alcohol in New Zealand does not enjoy a long history like Europe and we lack the sophistication and intelligence it seems, of the Europeans to enjoy food and family along with a social drink.

The Government has now changed our drinking laws to impact most heavily on the young drinkers. Never mind that they are the ones the alcohol companies seek out to entice with new alcohol flavoured milkshakes and purple fizzy alcohol pops. What silly signals. "Life can't be enjoyed without alcohol?'

The real problem as I see it, is not the age of the drinkers; it is the price and availability of alcohol.
Get alcohol out of the supermarkets . It is not a food, and the cheap cheap price of wine and beer means alcohol is being sold at cost or even below cost to get you into the shop.
Alcohol is a drug and like other drugs that adults consume it needs to be sold at an R18 outlet. my approach would be to decriminalise cannabis, as it has the same popularity as tobacco and is enjoyed by a quarter of all adult new Zealanders regularly. Sell cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis at a one stop shop for adults R18 and kept behind a counter.
Unlike alcohol, cannabis is not responsible for the 75% of adult presentations at A&E during the weekend. Cannabis could be a safe alternative to alcohol and reduce the number of road accidents and deaths through liver disease. Cannabis is used safely in coffee clubs in Europe for over 30 years.
While many people will say, "we have enough problems with alcohol, we don't need another drug to deal with". I tend to see it as a solution and not a problem. Many former drinkers have switched to cannabis and now no longer drink alcohol.
The National Government has its own agenda and it does not really include, the young , the poor or those struggling with addiction.
I call for a campaign to remove alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy for me here ,because  in Waitakere we have the Alcohol Licencing Trust and have no sales of alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy as. Its the same in Australia too. Alcohol is not food.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

New Zealand is a ridiculously small country

We are really very lucky to be born in New Zealand. To, many people from overpopulated areas, New Zealand appears like a green paradise. For we are one of the countries, where a trip  from the sea to sky or  the mountains is easily achievable in just a few hours.We have remarkable scenery and a world class sporting event called the Coast to Coast.  Being physically remote from America and Europe we have earned a reputation for being healthy and rugged.

Amongst ourselves we like to establish our own point of difference as well. North Islander or South Islander is usually the first question we ask. Auckland the largest city in New Zealand is a name said with scorn by some (Dorkland) and pride by others. I love living in Auckland.

In our haste to get "somewhere else" England, or America we bypassed our Pacific neighbours for decades. It is only now, that Auckland, the largest Polynesian city in the world is coming to accept that multicultural is the best way to describe our society. In our former misplaced snobbery we placed value on education and still ask what school did you attend?  Often this can identify someone we knew, as in "oh you'll know my cuz tama then, " and we are reduced to several degrees of separation. often only two degrees separate us. But more often its part of establishing the old-boy old-girl network from private schools.

Its amazing that after a time in new Zealand where ever you go, you will meet someone you know, or some one who knows you. Sometimes it is great and very helpful, not so if you have a shady past. No one knows more about family than  some Maori,on their whakapapa. They often can tell whole generations of history and name every cousin .

For a small remote country,we punch above above our weight in sport in many disciplines. Netball and equestrian events as well as sailing. I don't know if its our extremely competitive nature developed by playing against Australia. Or the fact that we beat them despite them being a far larger country. Our Rugby team will again have the chance to prove its rank in the world next month.
 but, as I like to say we are: New Zealand the best in the world at everything.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Well, What are you worth?

I am working towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences in order to gain a Masters Degree and I have finally admitted to having some attachment issues with Canterbury University.
This has been one of my longest and most successful relationships my relationship with higher education. It is one sided but I am in love with learning.
 Earlier this week I sat in a class mostly full of well paid professionals and I thought about my own status as a beneficiary and student. I thought about the client group I work with and target, and  the distance between their patients.  Where I live in Avondale, the locally produced magazine reported that 6 beggars been identified and that they are being disruptive to some businesses or perhaps intimidating people. I would really like to work with these people as I am sure they just need some support perhaps to get into housing or maybe get back on a benefit? No address , no benefit usually.
But it was the people I shared my learning space and our speakers that impressed me. Is it wrong to ask how much people earn? well it can be considered vulgar by some. But in health practitioner circles it's ok to ask how much they charge per hour, after all many health practitioners are in effect small businesses trying to make a profit.
 One school counsellor who I thought came dangerously close to breaching confidentiality told us she was worth $70.00 per hour, even if the students accessing her special phone outside of work was calling about a ridiculously trivial matter. Perhaps she could waive her fee and just act more generously.
Another fantastic practitioner outlined their treatments and the amazing success and high level of care which was good value at $300.00. and it is no doubt if you have that much money available.
I am a beneficiary and I am also a student. However I value my time and believe in my ability to make changes. I am part of the organisation Auckland Action Against Poverty and put time into trying to save the Avondale Post Office from closure. I also would like to engage with the local beggars as they have been labelled to discover if they are homeless and if so receiving any income. Not having an address means you cannot usually receive a benefit. Maybe these people have been in care and now are still too unwell to cope on their own?

What ever their reason for being on the street asking for money, I am willing to donate some of my time and perhaps solve a problem which most people just want to avoid.The other thing that occurred to me was, if I can donate my time to helping some one for free , why can't all health professionals donate an hour a week or provide a free appointment to those most in need and also likely to benefit most.I wish I could afford the treatment that was described. I also I know that my hourly rate (while studying and on a benefit) is under the minimum wage but that is not what I am worth. I know, not to confuse what people pay, or don't pay me with what I am worth. I certainly know my value and the value of things that do not always have a monetary value.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Flying visit to Christchurch

This week I had to return to Christchurch to attend three days of lectures towards my Post Grad. Diploma in Health Sciences.

Having spent most of my life growing up in Christchurch I have pretty strong attachments to Canterbury even if I don't want to. My fear of earthquakes stopped me making it to Christchurch last June but my apprehension was rewarded  by the fact I escaped another serious Earthquake.I messed up in a big way by missing out on my lectures but I completed my paper and handed it in on time .

Christchurch has moved on a lot since my last visit. Announcements have been made about payouts and I am sure a feeling of relief is being felt by many, as they can begin to plan their futures again.

 I drove past Burnside High school and saw the many school buses and was instantly reminded of America and its bus system. I had the passing thought, does a ride to school improve attendance? I wonder.

While I am looking for the old and familiar in the many changes that have occurred over the past 6 months the things that do remain the same are the people and the friendships. They are a powerful pull.

On arrival to Christchurch, my first thought was my Mother who is over 80 and in a rest home but always chipper. In fact she does not seem to get get even a cold, and the people who care for her lovely. We spent an hour or so chatting away over cups of tea and were spoiled by some lovely chocolate cake freshly baked for afternoon tea.

 Next stop was to visit some friends now living in Christchurch who I originally met on the West Coast. I had a great evening and  lovely dinner of wild pork. My friends were reminiscing on old time and feels like something never change and then we felt another jolt and were immediately back in the present and know that many things have changed. But since we have known each other we have had children and funerals, moved house and now a grandchild for one of us. The life cycle and the seasons are unstoppable. I saw a little daffodil and pointed to and said "look spring" and my friend said it survived the snow.  We are resilient in Christchurch.

Doing a block course , cramming a term or more lectures into a few days is a brain melting experience but the learning is empowering in some ways. Its a pleasure to be in the group although it has been said "I  don't get out enough". One of our speaker spoke about being disabled and overcoming disability and mentioned how Christchurch has an opportunity to build a new city that is accommodating towards those with a physical disability. I had never considered until now, that you can't enjoy a garden very easily from a wheel chair unless it's a raised bed. Interesting.

Finally I met a new person tonight. Someone I knew about and had been a friend online and also in the same  field studying addiction and gambling as well as life's mysteries .Its magic when you met someone and just click. Lynette, you are one more reason for me to love Christchurch, and keep coming back despite the little shakes I had on my first day. Nothing is ever as bad as we fear.

Half a day more of study and then a few more things to do as, I really don't know when I will be back. The house is on the market so it may not be too long. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cannabis, Drugs and Medicine

In a few weeks time I am going to the Cutting Edge Conference, it is New Zealand's Leading conference on Drug Treatment and Addiction and is for the workers and researchers in this field. In 2008 I presented my Literature Review on "The Public Health Message on Cannabis" not a long presentation as most things cannabis are not dealt very well with in this country as cannabis is illegal and tends to remain outside the medical framework. As consequence the messages about cannabis are nearly all bad.

I am confused and concerned enough to consider staging a protest at this conference for my friends who use medical marijuana. In particular I would like to highlight the plight of my friend billy McKee. He is an amputee in a wheel chair who uses cannabis as a medicine. Billy does not usually smoke cannabis he prefers to use it in tea and as a poultice directly applied to his stump. He is currently on bail for supplying medical marijuana to Green Cross members. he has been making available a medicine that has been used in Asia for 2000 years.

Medicine is medicine and our medical notes and records are private. Who uses what and when is confidential.
So what if you are on anti-biotics, prozac, pain killers or sleeping pills its private and your business alone. If people derive relief for their pain of other conditions why are we being so precious. We don't meddle when Gran takes sleeping pills, or prozac, why does anyone begrudge  anyone from using this form of medication. We all know Doctors prescribe dangerous and addictive drugs that can cause harm especially when over prescribed or in the wrong hands.

Medicine is medicine, and many have side effects when taken. Medicines react differently on different people, some medicines are addictive and panadol is responsible for more poisoning and deaths in this country than illicit drugs. Cannabis is so benign there has never been a  fatal dose recorded.

So I think that Billy should have his medicine, he is after all, 50 plus years old. I am just wondering how far to take this at the conference. I shall at the very least wear a Free Billy t -shirt.
And do a little dissenting...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

On Femininity -or on being a woman .

I'm showing my age here, but in the movie, Pygmalion, Henry Higgins says to Eliza Dolittle in an exasperated tone of voice "why can't a woman , be more like a man?"
I have often thought of myself as both Mum and Dad to my children due to being a single parent.I have even contemplated celebrating Fathers Day by buying myself a present. I am not masculine or rugged in fact I'm petite but I can summon up my male attributes by being direct, dominating , aggressive and taking the lead. Its not by choice but necessity, as the mother of girls I have been spared, role modelling male sports . I would prefer however to be a more kind and gentle person.

I also am using this opportunity to revel in my joy of being a woman and a mother. I love my three daughters and relish the time in the future when we can all get together as adults. I am so proud of them and enjoy them as well. They are unique individuals with talents like caring, art, singing and having a sense of belonging as well as creating a new life up in Auckland. Their girlyness is great
 By living in the NOW, I  love spring , I see spikes of green pushing up and bursts of yellow with the new daffs appearing here and there.

Pink blossoms on trees, flowers really rock my world. Especially the fragrant one. Daphne and wintersweet.
 As a woman hair and make up are less important to me than some others but I like lipstick and love perfume and shoes.

My favourite thing is baking, cakes and all kinds of cooking is one of the ways I pass my spare time. another activity that smells really good too.  Is it being a woman or is it part of being a mother, I tend to think of it as worthwhile way to spend time. It makes me happy and finding a little bit of joy in everyday is what is good about being alive.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The insidious nature of exclusivity.

Many of us desire to belong to a group, or be part of the "in crowd". Being popular and liked is a human condition. But there is also a feeling that comes with belonging. There is an 'in' or an 'out' at play. If you are not 'in' you are 'out'. On the outer, being an outsider is not desirable. No one wants to feel that they are a misfit and don't belong or worse , once belonged and not now. being pushed out or a group or even a family can be a form of discrimination.

An inclusive society is one where people are welcomed in and recognised, that their age, gender, race (read differences ) are their strength.Inclusion can happen by design or by accident as can exclusion. Some reasons for excluding people are subtle such as creating a homogeneous group where people are all similar, these groups tend to maintain the status quo and resist change. Gender is a reason for exclusion, not always by design but due to constraints girls and women are often excluded from learning about cars and tools as there is little opportunity or time to just learn. At school girls may get one term to learn woodwork and metal work or hard technology as it is now known. Women are as likely to drive cars as men but it is assumed we are not that likely to do repairs.

Money is also a reason for exclusion. Sports can also be exclusive due to costs. Polo, golf and rowing for example are all out of the reach of many New Zealanders. The poorest of us cannot afford boots for sport.Sport can unite people and create a strong sense of team building but it can also reinforce social and class barriers. Discrimination through age, lack of money, race , gender and lastly small peoples power trips is a fact of life for many. What we do or don't do can be a cause of discrimination.

Age can exclude people for being too young or too old.Women can be excluded, especially socially as while men tend to head to the pub for a drink, women tend to head home to prepare dinner. Race should not be a reason for separation and yet I feel a sense of frustration for Maori who want inclusion and deserve it, but also non-maori who often fail to understand iwi and hapu relationships.

Young people seem to bear the brunt of this in-or-out policy and I think it is a behaviour that small people feel bigger by putting others down. In fact while my back is sore, with all those rich people climbing up and over me to retain their position at the top, I am sure the young people feel flatter than an empty tube of toothpaste given the treatment they received right down at the bottom with no one willing to help them grow and nurture them.

Excluding people for their knowledge and feeling intimidated is common as people often only want to look good .  In this election year arseholes abound , I found this book at the library called "The No Asshole Rule, building a civilised workplace and surviving one that isn't. by Robert Sutton PhD. Its a great read.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

In Praise of NOT NEW.

We live in contrary times. Our values are being challenged from those that create, to one that acquires. Material possessions and the accumulation of stuff is a relatively new phenomena.
The New Immigrant arrivals were the ultimate DIY'ers who had to build homes, make clothes and prepare food from scratch. Retail Therapy, was not invented and shops were few and far between.Compare this to now days and attitudes to spending.

Some old things have always been valued and treasured for sentimental reasons but these days, newer, bigger, faster, and better seems to be what the majority of people want .
Take cars for example, I had a theory that i could own a car for just $20.00 per week by buying a cheap car for around $1000.00 with WOF and Rego and as long as it ran for a year I was ahead. Nicer more expensive cars devalue once you buy them and often require more expensive repairs and are hard to sell.
We love car shows and classic cars but we have a glut of not wanted cars that are not re-used or re-cycled. Recently I have developed an appreciation of big block muscle cars from America as I have learnt to understand the hours of time and money and commitment involved in the restoration of these cars. The point is perfection, gleaming chrome, immaculate paint, sparkling interior and keeping it original are prized by enthusiasts. Pride in workmanship is the rewards as often the costs are never recouped.

Compare this with pressing your nose against the showroom of some expensive European dealership window with cars costing several years income for many.
What are the messages being registered. I accept that all people need to have goals and aims but we should be valued for who we are and what we do-not what we own.
Have a look around you. How many items have been hand made or made by someone you know? What skills are we losing by buying instead of making and restoring?

In praise of older items, the NOT NEW, have more personality, were made to last and stand out as originals instead of mass produced items. I like clothing and jewellery from decades past. Recycled and vintage clothing is one area that is growing in popularity as people reject the cult of the new and seek something with more meaning than mass made goods.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A horrible week for youth

A horrible and really shitty week to be yoof whether in New Zealand or in the heart of the riots in England. It seems that people my generation and older are pretty divided on attitudes to young people. I like to think I am generally on the side of young people, even if they don't want my support
Anti-youth sentiment and blame seems to be all I read about these days.
I feel its hardly our young people to blame with 25% of 19-year-olds being unemployed. Is it there fault? In most instances the answer is a resounding no.

Who has the power in this situation, how can a young person get into employment when there are no new jobs, no apprenticeships, no dedicated youth training scheme only low paying jobs and trial periods of employment adding to the insecurity and vulnerability young people feel.

A zero BAC for youth is blatant discrimination. It should be unlawful to allow drinking at 18 and then attempt to enforce a no-alcohol level for the young. Age targeting is yet another false attempt by our Government to avoid upsetting the liquor industry and pretend to do something about the road toll. as an experienced AOD counsellor I can tell you that while young people seem to hit the headlines, its the people who have been  drinking for over 20 years that are resistant to change. Young people have grown up with the message ,    "drink and and drive and you are a bloody idiot". They are not!

The worst blamer I leave to last, British PM, Dave Cameron must be off his rocker to blame youth again when this like all riots come about when the critical mass is reached and a group mentality takes over. The reason for this are many but it is the dogma of profits before people and what is known as the neo-liberal doctrine of the past 30 years or so. It has increased inequality, and as a result increased hopelessness. . Lets quit the blaming and find a solution to this economic crisis that creates the disconnect in society.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Winners and Losers

John Key makes no attempt to conceal his personal belief in winners and losers, particularly winner takes all.His decision not to debate with the smaller parties suggests a form of arrogance and perhaps a disconnect from what is Democracy.We are the sum of many parts that fit and work well together. The success of any person or political party depends on it. As does the whole of New Zealand.

Why then do we have a leader in this country who creates inequality, grows unemployment, obscures the truth of business in New Zealand as the winners and losers game does not work, The effects of Neo-liberalism or profits before people can be clearly seen . We need to create a win-win situation in New Zealand that builds the economy and creates jobs.

Under National this nation is suffering because those in power do back room deals with a handshake, and change the laws to suit themselves faster than ACT changes Leader. The ordinary person will not benefit under National as the ordinary person does not have a rental property or a high income or family trust.
Endorsing winners and losers only increases the chances of seeing a repeat of the rioting in England, here.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Nearly one million users can’t be wrong.

Banning a book, a movie, behaviour or a substance, such as tobacco or alcohol usually creates more demand, an increase in price or even a black market. The consequences of the American prohibition of alcohol resulted in more organised crime, faster cars and more guns. The situation is parallel today in New Zealand with P.

The question I think should be, is why is the demand for Kronic, (and the other herbal smoking products) so high? Why have a legal product Kronic, that mimics a banned product? The psychoactive properties of kronic are cannabinoids; the same found in organic cannabis but lack THC. Many drugs prescribed drugs on the market are also analogues or chemical copies that are altered by one molecule to create a new drug or to make a cheaper generic version. Banning cannabis has resulted in the increased popularity of an untried substance. It’s not only in New Zealand. This has been a worldwide event.

Peter Dunne takes a rather peculiar approach to politics by having his one claim to fame, the Continued Prohibition of Cannabis. His time in Parliament has seen the arrests and conviction of over 100,000 people. What was he thinking by banning Kronic, when prohibition has not worked? Overseas countries have shown, despite high levels of Kronic sales more people still prefer to use cannabis. A UK survey from “mixmag” found that one in 8 respondents had used “Spice” (the dominant UK brand in 2009) compared to 85% who had used cannabis. It should be asked, is why is demand for Kronic so high? Is it because people are looking for an alternative to alcohol?

I feel that a lot more questions need asking and more research done as well. New Zealand has gone from a world leader in social reform to one lagging behind. One of the problems by maintaining the prohibition on cannabis is that we are denying a valuable medicine to those most in need. In New Zealand the biggest barrier is unfortunately the Associate Minister of Health Mr Peter Dunne who has a particularly narrow view, or is it because of pressure from the liquor, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries I cannot speculate. But cannabis is used very safely in around the world. Many states in the USA, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel and Spain allow medicinal use of marijuana.  In parts of Asia and India it grows wild.  It is part of Ayurvedic medicine in India and commonly used in China. It is favoured in Muslim countries where alcohol is banned as well.  

I have been involved with Drug Law Reform in New Zealand since MMP came into New Zealand. I am a trained school teacher with a Degree in Education and a Diploma in Alcohol and other Drug counselling. I can’t stand by and watch as thousands of lives are trashed through archaic laws, the 1975 Misuse of Drug Act, was written well before the “rave” culture of the 1980’s and rampant ecstasy use and the 1990’s with BZP and other  legal designer drugs. Plus New Zealand has one the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. The health effects, as most people know are minimal, compared to the harms associated with cigarettes and tobacco, cannabis pretty safe. That is why there is no public health message against cannabis. The worst that can happen is being caught. However even the law is catching up and now, warnings notices are regularly given and no offence is noted. 

The combined total of the 400,000 people who have identified themselves to having tried cannabis in the past year and the 500,000 doses for synthetic cannabis sold equate to nearly a million people and/ or doses when combined. The biggest elephant in the room blocking better access to services, faster courts and more money for dependency treatment is the money wasted on policing cannabis. The harm to society through the enforcement of the law is greater than the harms from cannabis.

Recreational drug use is not a deviant behaviour illicit drug taking may have become the norm. What is important is allowing proper education about safe drug use. Not using substances alone for the first time is a golden rule. I can only imagine that a few presentations at the emergency dept could be avoided with better drug use advice. We are far too tolerant of the harm in society that alcohol and tobacco cause. The RWC is case in point of the acceptance of alcohol and refusal to see the harms.