Real Issues Blog

Is education the great equaliser?

Kieran Madden
29 June 15

Last week, New Zealand got a glowing report card from the OECD for our economic performance and the policies set in place to bolster it. Yet the same report showed up areas of our nation that need some work, education in particular. The report puts it this way:+ more

No longer protected

Jane Silloway Smith
11 June 15

Boer’s assessment of the horrors unfolding around him is that legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia has led to death at the hands of doctors—instead of being a last resort for the most extreme cases—becoming normalised in Dutch society. At a recent conference in Australia, he said that the law has sent an unintended message to those who know that their lives will likely be very, very difficult—the message is “we can do without you.”+ more

The President, and the complicated truth

Kieran Madden
22 May 15

With the tragic deaths and riots in Baltimore and Ferguson focusing attention on poverty through the lens of race, the broader debate on the causes of poverty in the States falls down predictable lines—the decline of culture and family on one side; the failures of the capitalist economic system on the other. But it doesn’t have to be this way. + more

What's happened to Finland's schools?

Jane Silloway Smith
12 May 15

Educationalists around the world have, over the past decade and a half, tried to figure out what it was that made Finnish education so great, and how they could bring those things to their own countries. Student-led learning, no standardised testing, a system-wide focus on equity, and short school days and years were the often cited secrets to Finland’s—and, presumably, one day everyone else’s—success.+ more

The making of resilient families

Kieran Madden
06 May 15

Because poverty is inherently a negative situation, most stories and discussions focus on deficits and lacks. When we hosted a series of roundtable discussions with practitioners and academics last year, they argued that we need to “flip the poverty debate upside down” and focus on resilience—why some families cope better in low income situations or manage to avoid poverty altogether.+ more

Caring for the whole person

Jane Silloway Smith
22 April 15

“Now what’s wrong with your dad?” I was asked for the seventh time that day. I couldn’t believe it. We had been at the hospital for over six hours at that point. My dad hadn’t been doing so well. Specialist after specialist passed us along with worried faces but saying nothing. Finally, we came to the specialist who put words to the looks: pneumonia, bad pneumonia, your-dad-might-be-dead-tomorrow-pneumonia.+ more

Culture, not "choice"

Jeremy Vargo
22 April 15

Today, across Western Australia there are 274 small communities in fear of losing power, water, and other essential services needed to sustain their towns. Worse still, they have no idea what criteria will be used to decide if their power will stay on, or exactly who gets to make the call on whether their town will remain inhabitable. All are Aboriginal communities.+ more

What makes you poor?

Kieran Madden
31 March 15

Definition-wise, poverty in New Zealand today means more than just not starving. Poverty is about a lack of resources preventing people and families from being able to meet their needs. This standard is relative... As this average reference point changes with new technology for example, so does what it means to be poor and what is needed to participate in society. + more

Food in schools: focus on real outcomes

Kieran Madden
23 March 15

Some Kiwi kids are going to school hungry. Learning is hard when you’re hungry, and getting ahead in life is hard when you’re not learning. This is a serious problem; one that both Metiria Turei’s and David Shearer’s recently defeated bills sought to do something about—above and beyond the Government’s KickStart breakfast programme supported by Fonterra and Sanitarium. + more

Gambling with people's lives

Jane Silloway Smith
17 March 15

Last month, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down that country’s laws against assisted suicide. Because New Zealand’s Bill of Rights is similar to the Canadian Charter of Rights, proponents of assisted suicide here have argued the Canadian ruling should be a model to be followed and replicated.+ more

Tourist drivers: a convenient scapegoat

Jeremy Vargo
10 March 15

The hard facts tell us that over the last ten years, so-called “tourist drivers” were involved in around 6% of all road crashes that resulted in death or injury, and were found at fault about 2% of the time. That means that for every crash where a foreign driver injures or kills a New Zealander, there are two incidents where a New Zealander does the same to a tourist. + more

The aftershocks of King Henry VIII

Alex Penk
06 March 15

In late 2010, after the first shock, our Parliament needed to act fast to help rebuild shattered streets, buildings and communities. It passed the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act, intended to relax some of the usual legal processes that control things like building activities. Unfortunately, the Act used something called a Henry VIII clause ... + more