Letters: Education failings, bank profits, Three Waters, tax cuts, and

There is growing concern about the standard of education in New Zealand. Photo / Mandic Jovan, 123rf, File

Curriculum overload

The key correlation with the decline in NZ education is quantity. Oliver Hartwich (NZ Herald, November 9) is one of many critics who fail to identify this. It is a quantitative problem. The curriculum is too big and getting bigger. Over the years, regular additions have been made to the curriculum but nothing has been subtracted. The limit of about 25 hours of contact time per week has not changed but the curriculum continues to expand, diluting all of its parts. When teachers complain about “workload” they are really talking about “job size” signalling that the curriculum is too big. The greatest failure of the Ministry is that it has not prioritised but simply welcomed everyone in without ever deleting anything. It is the Ministry’s duty to have the difficult conversation that when something is added to the curriculum, something else must go. But this means saying that one thing is of less value than another. No one wants to talk about that. Schools don’t need yet more interventions and additions to their task. Like marine reserves, they should be left alone to recover from the equivalent of bottom-trawling.

Martin Ball, Kelston.

Outside influences

I read the scathing article by Oliver Hartwich (NZ Herald, November 9) with almost fascination. He says, among other things, we need better teacher training and a better career structure for teachers. The quality of the training and the career possibilities teachers have today is exponentially better than that I received 60-odd years ago. The problem is not there. In my time in teaching, we seldom had to deal with hungry children disadvantaged by a financially divided society, sleepless children, their eyes continually glued to screens or children whose minds had been affected by parental drug use. Television had not yet become the powerful influence it now is. Children did not have phones and social media did not exist. Discipline was stronger and was supported by most homes. At times it was overly harsh but it was usually consistent. Syllabi were less variable and there was less jumping to meet the latest trend from some way out fringe. I shudder to think of the damage done to kids by the looney numeracy project adopted some years ago. The poor results now being seen are a reflection of the way our society has developed and teachers, by and large, have been the fall guys.

Richard G.M. Smith, Henderson.

Past lessons

Oliver Hartwich’s opinion piece on the decline of NZ’s education system (NZ Herald, November 9) lacks references to realities of recent history. He writes of decline from the 1990s, without seeming to realise that this coincides with the “Tomorrow’s Schools” reforms, which were supposed to raise standards. Dezoning which ran from 1991-98, seriously widened the wealth gap that he accurately notes, which led to the establishment of equity/decile funding in 1995, replaced this year by the better-targeted equity index. Improvements are most certainly needed, founded on accurate knowledge.

Ann Dunphy, Parnell.

Finnish school

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Finland’s education system is run by educators rather than business people or Ministers. When a government changes, the same educators continue their roles. New Zealand has a fantastic group of educators who could do this job. Unfortunately, every time we have a change of government teachers are expected to change to yet another system and the consistency that students need to succeed is lost. A forward-thinking government could repeat Finland’s world-leading education system.

Neil Hatfull, Warkworth.

Bank checks

Rather than moan about bank profits (NZ Herald, November 9), the Prime Minister would be more effective if she made them reinvest a portion into updating their payment systems. Currently, New Zealand is one of the few developed countries where banks do not check the recipient’s name in transactions. An update would see many scams averted.

Lucas Bonne, Unsworth Heights.

Cultural obsession

The Reserve Bank Governor had one job – keep inflation under control. For over 30 years, inflation was kept in check. But ideologically the Reserve Bank didn’t reflect the strategy, culture, and people of New Zealand, so Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson meddled with the focus and the type of expertise required to work there. This economic and cultural vandalism has been, and is being, rolled out to all Government departments. Little wonder social services, health, housing, roads, education, tourism, and the economy are such a mess. Our Government departments need a culture of excellence not excellence in culture.

Peter Mayall, Tamahere.

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr. Photo / Mark MitchellReserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Brisbane comparison

The comparison of staffing and expenditure between Auckland and Brisbane, as outlined in a letter (NZ Herald, November 9), uses incorrect population figures. The staffing and expenditure figures refer to Brisbane City Council, with a population of 1.2 million, not 2.4 million which is the population of the wider Brisbane metropolitan area. Based on these figures, the staffing numbers per million residents at Auckland City are virtually identical to those for Brisbane City, and, given that water and wastewater services are not included in Brisbane City figures, I would suggest Auckland Council staff deliver more per person. Furthermore, Auckland Council expenditure in 2022 was $4.7 billion, not $7 billion. Again, based on population, this is considerably less than the expenditure of Brisbane City.

Errol Anderson, Ponsonby.

Outrageous cost

The lead story (NZ Herald, November 9) expresses the outrage felt by the National Party at Government proposals to provide a workspace for people employed to implement Three Waters. Furthermore, this will cost me 40 cents this year and probably 40 cents next year as well. And it’s not just me, it’s every man woman, and child paying this much too. You can see why National thinks it’s going to win the election- it’s really on to the important issues.

Mark Nixon, Remuera.

Happy returns

Why can’t Kiwis see through Christopher Luxon’s National Party? The only real policy they preach is a huge tax cut for the very rich. That means $18.000 for him, $12.000 for backbenchers, and a few bucks to lower-paid workers – the same old philosophy that’s dominated the Tories for years. And do the wealthy actually need more money? Of course not, as many own extra houses and properties. Surely voters see that the above tax policy is just not fair. It’s monstrous greed to think that it is. And the same questions could be asked why Jacinda Ardern won’t apply a windfall tax on the outrageous profits that banks accumulate – after all, hers is supposed to be a left-wing government. Our great values have simply disappeared.

Rex Head, Papatoetoe.

Right to disagree

In David Fisher’s article (NZ Herald, November 8), he quotes Jacinda Ardern saying, “disinformation corrodes the foundation of liberal democracy”. To a certain extent, I agree but we must be careful not to exclude free speech or general discussion on topics which one disagrees with or holds an opposing opinion. We should remember also, that the majority is not always right.

Chas Bennett, Beach Haven.

Pier review

While I am a big supporter of Wayne Brown and like what I hear from him so far, I am concerned about his vision for our Port. There is no question the Ports of Auckland capital expenditure and operating performance has been a disgrace, but that does not mean the answer is to close it down. So far, the Port has given up most of Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf and what have we got to show for it? Many of the businesses on Princes Wharf have failed and it is now near on impossible to drive to the Hilton Hotel or the adjacent apartments. As for Queens Wharf, it beggars’ belief, we have two white elephants in the form of The Cloud and Shed 10. The State House overlooking the harbour provides views for no one. The income produced from these developments wouldn’t pay the maintenance. We also need an objective review of just how practical it is to transport 200,000 cars from Whangārei to Auckland. The damage already inflicted on the southbound lane of SH1 on this route is already significant, caused simply by the diversion of a few container ships. It is surprising that anyone could contemplate making this situation worse. We need concrete evidence and analysis to justify any changes proposed for the Ports of Auckland.

Murray Higgs, Parnell.

Australia fair

We are not alone with the high number of people on the housing waitlist. Looking at Australian information, contrary to what we are led to believe that Australia is wonderful, they also have thousands on their lists who have in some cases been waiting years. They are also stating that people are unable to afford rent or to buy a home. Exactly the same situation as here. Funny how it’s all the Labour Government’s fault for our situation. I’m sure it won’t change if the National Party get elected.

Sue Gallahar, Mangere East.

Echo of Bowie

In 1983, the late great David Bowie made a statement about Australia that went, “As much as I love this country, it is probably one of the most racially intolerant in the world, well in line with South Africa”. I guess Six60 has just found out that nothing at all has changed even when it has absolutely nothing to do with Australia and the band poster does not even list an Australian-based gig. Strange also how rock n roll seems to be at both ends of this situation 40 years apart.

J McCormick, Gisborne.

Short and sweet

On workers

Are migrant workers now welcome or is it going to be “you took our jobs” accusations all over again? Nishi Fahmy, Avondale.

On Twitter

Musk has converted Twitter from social to personal media. Why would people not quit? S Mohanakrishnan, Mt Roskill.

On Luxon

Grant Robertson’s and Jacinda Ardern’s unkindly exertions – aiming to denigrate Christopher Luxon – seem more effective in positively boosting his profile than his own efforts to do so. J. Livingstone, Remuera.

On Six60

Loved the way Six60 responded to Rowan Dean humorously and without invective. If only all responses could be similarly mature. Chris Chrystall, Epsom.

On windfalls

Should the Government return tax to New Zealanders from their windfall profits on GST and Income tax bracket creep? Or is that not necessary, seeing as they achieved skyrocketing domestic inflation through their own herculean efforts? Len Houwers, New Plymouth.

On banks

The Prime Minister’s attack on banks’ profits is the clearest example of tall poppy syndrome I have ever heard. John Ford, Taradale.

The Premium Debate

Thomas Coughlan: Why the PM hit out at banks

You forget the politics; having blamed Covid, supply-chain issues, the war in Ukraine for the cost of living crisis she now moves onto the Banks as the culprits. Once again its simply deflect, deflect, deflect. Never apologise, never explain. Paul L.

Bank bashing season again? Seriously already – your Kiwisaver holds bank shares and profits and dividends help prop up the unit price growth hence returns – what this Government knows about economics you could fit in a matchbox. Bevan M.

I’ve got shares in these “Australian” banks. So does my Kiwisaver fund. I also have shares in many global companies – as does my Kiwisaver fund. Time we ceased this ignorant and parochial response to companies with nominally foreign domicile. Marcus A.

I am happy for my bank – one of the big four, to have a strong balance Sheet to be vested with good profits. Our pension funds, over many years, have been secured by this knowledge. They are safe and sound with no speculative investments. Paul M.

This is politics at its worst. The PM is totally silent around the fact that the banks ceased paying dividends in the first year of Covid in line with Reserve Bank direction. This impacted all KiwiSaver balances with banks making up part of every provider’s portfolio. Ask those same savers and shareholders whether they are happy with the Government’s line on this when their narrative targets their savings balances. I hold bank shares and the Government clearly didn’t and doesn’t care about the lost income nor the expectation that the year of lost dividends should be recoupable. Play both sides of the coin with this issue and park the emotion. Don B.


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