Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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Maori Language: “But the debate it’s over. We already had it.”

I am white. I grew, and will continue to grow, up with the privilege of being white. People will learn my name no matter how I write it or how many unnecessary vowels I add, simply because my skin tone is a few shades lighter and my family came from Europe. I grew up learning simple te reo in class as a means of communication. Around year 4/5 it stopped. And now I struggle with something that I wish I knew so easily, a language that belongs in the tongues of those that live here. If you move to France you are expected to learn French, if you move to Spain you are expected to learn Spanish. Why is it different for New Zealand? Canada does it so easily, no second guessing no questions. French and English. Simple. It would be so easy to have followed in Canada’s footsteps, but no, we had to remove Maori from every day life.

One debate is that “it’s an outdated language” and I have two counterpoints. 1) so is latin but schools continue to quote that sh*t relentlessly. 2) there’s a reason it’s outdated and it’s you. Funny how Spanish isn’t outdated in Spain, and French is still in effect in France. Why aren’t they outdated languages? We know that answer – because they’re still “european” languages….

If white people can name their child “T9c” and “KVIIIlyn”, then you can damn well learn someone’s name. It’s not even a race thing, it’s a respect thing. You know who’s names I don’t learn? The people I don’t care for. If you care enough and respect them enough you will learn their name. But we know that’s the issue. You don’t respect them or care for them – that’s when it becomes a race issue.

I want my kids to learn Maori. I want them to be more fluent than I ever was. I want them to be able to say the colours in both English and Maori, then I want them to be able to hold a simple conversation in Maori. As an ‘NZ/European’ I want these things for my children because I owe it to them. If I’m going to raise them in New Zealand, it is my duty to teach them about the land they live on and among. It’s my job as their mother to teach them about how language is a beautiful thing. Because it’s so much more than just a language. It’s another reason to shun someone from the prestigious seats we claim are hard earned but are really just pure luck for being born the ‘right’ colour. We say it’s New Zealand so they should speak English, but that’s not true. It’s New Zealand/Aotearoa so we should learn to speak foundation Maori. It’s our duty to preserve the culture we so rudely stole and exploited. That was our promise and we have severely broken it.

It’s not that hard to get your head out of your ass and learn. I’m not even going to lie, it makes me mad. It makes me so upset to think these people believe that this is their land. But as Kanoa Lloyd said “I know this is not gonna be some big wake up call moment for people that think this way. The Brash’s and Witherow’s and Gallagher’s of the world are not gonna wake up tomorrow and go “Oh I’ve been a bit bigoty” and then go and sign up for a te reo Maori class next week.” – They’re not. But what she does mention is that we don’t need to create a movement because there already is one. And it’s true. I see it in the early childcare centres, the curriculum incorporates te reo. You have these young children ready to take on the world and they have no internalised thoughts and prejudices to the language. And these are the kids that are going to lead us into the next generation. These kids will fight for te reo in primary schools, and in high schools – these kids will move mountains and remind us that it’s okay to celebrate that land on which we live. They will prove that there is nothing wrong with learning a language that belongs to this nation and it’s people.

In all honesty, I’m vowing that if I ever hear someone tell me they aren’t going to pronounce someone’s name correctly because it’s Maori, I’ll butcher their name in the most ridiculous way and refuse to stop until they realise how idiotic their understanding is. Some final words from Kanoa, “I actually felt a bit sorry for these guys. Like sorry the world is moving too fast for you my bros.”

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If I Were Prime Minister…

A look into what life would be like if I were to ever become prime minister of New Zealand. I’m going to tell you now – there will be no building of god damned roads because there are far bigger things that need tending to…

I would have medicinal cannabis available without scrutiny – people would not be looked down upon for treating their illness with medicine. Recreational use would be available to people with a limit on how much can be carried on a person. Only certified vendors can sell the cannabis and each store would be equipped with state of the art security to ensure no one is injured. Those in jail for cannabis related charges would be released on their own recognisance – depending on the type of charge. Those that are jailed for other charges such as violence would still keep those charges, but those jailed for carrying weed or selling weed would be released with the notion they will comply with the new laws.

It would be illegal to sell caged eggs. Only free range eggs will be able to be sold. And I would ensure free range is where the chickens are able to roam and they lay their eggs and they are treated with respect, dignity, and care. They aren’t given additional hormones to up their output, they are feed properly, and are not clipped. Those selling caged eggs would recieve a $750,000 fine for a first offence, a second offence would result in the persons being imprisoned.

Out of country buyers would need to provide proof they are going to be moving to New Zealand in three months before they are able to buy a home. This will weed out those buying houses to rent from overseas. Rentals will undergo new rules where they must receive an official “stamp” that certifies it is rental ready. This will mean there is no mould or mildew, no cracks in the seals of windows and doors, and that all promised amenities are working. Rentals would undergo these examinations annually to keep renters held accountable. I would build 300 new three bedroom houses spread across the major cities and 150 new three bedroom houses in non-major cities. These houses would be sold for no more than 400,000 dollars but the aim would be for them to sell at 350,000$.

Child poverty would undergo a huge investigation. Main factors would be found and fixed. Those living in poverty would be given highest priority for jobs and receive free childcare hours for under 5’s. This ensures they can attend their job and earn money that doesn’t go straight to childcare. Rentals/state housing would be supplied for free or at a low cost with subsidies to gas and electricity bills. Schools with lower deciles – which are typically known to have children from low income families – would receive free morning teas and lunches. These schools would have their own gardens with fruit and veges and chickens on site supplying eggs. This would lower the cost of providing lunches but also teaches children about the food process and involves them in the process too.

Mental health professionals would be trained efficiently and the rules for inpatient facilities would be looked at for change. Schools would have trained mental health professionals on site to help those with worries and stresses. Schools with higher mental health issues would have blocks of “calming time” with activities like yoga, outside reading, naps, or group talks to help with the stress of school. Local GP practices would have mental health professionals on site and working within the building. Small towns would have greater access to mental health facilities and people. Online services will be available too as some people may find it easier to talk not face to face. Online services would begin with an initial face to face interview, then continue online with face to face meetings when desired by the client. Mental Health programmes would be set up in schools to allow students to understand what depression is, what anxiety is, what bipolar, schizophrenia, and personality disorders are. In the likeness of Harold the Giraffe, it would be taught at every school and students will be reminded that it is okay to ask for help.

NCEA would drastically change. Schools would be encouraged to teach the children about things, not how to pass tests. They would be scored on their passion and understanding not their memory and ability to write fast in 30seconds. External testing would be brought down to a few exceptions as internal testing is much better for students’ stress levels. All/most testing would be open book – a pamphlet may be given out containing basic information that would then be used to test their understanding and knowledge. In the case of mathematics it may be the equation/how to work it out, but they must be able to apply it to different equations. In today’s society, calculators are there, phones are connected to the internet, and knowledge is abundant. Making students have to memorise information rather than interpret it hinders their ability to process information and interpret it in the greater world. Memorising information is no longer a test to knowledge and ability.

I would also make te reo a compulsory lesson in school. In primary and intermediates it will be a lesson that is compulsory. In secondary school; year 9 would have it compulsory, and the following years will have the option of taking it up. It is our duty as New Zealand citizens to keep the language of this land alive. We owe it to the Maori that we hurt when Europeans came to New Zealand. If we have it as a second language, why is it not compulsory? In Canada packaging has both english and french – here I would make it that New Zealand grown and made products have both english and te reo. Eventually pushing for total duo-lingual packaging.

WINZ services would pay livable wages not minimum wages. Mothers will not have to disclose the fathers name if he is not living on site with them/not sharing custody. If sharing custody, a name will not have to be given so long as the days of custody are given. Those working in WINZ will be given a zero tolerance of discrimination and if any case of discrimination is sought upon, action will be taken. They will be inclusive and welcoming to everyone regardless of what the situation is. No one WANTS to depend on the government, but sometimes it’s the only option.

I would make abortion an medical procedure and not a criminal act. Moving it from criminal acts into a medical procedure will mean those considering and having abortions will not face the inner turmoil of performing a “criminal act” in an already had time. This isn’t to promote abortions as many believe. If Christians (and other) have the right to choose NOT to have an abortion, then why don’t other woman get the right to choose what happens to their body? I would take away the signing by two doctors and would make it available to anyone seeking it. I would have caring people in the procedure room who are non-judgmental and understand what a hard decision it is. No one wants an abortion. It’s not a want like you want ice cream for dinner, it’s a want like you want to rip out the tooth that’s decaying in your mouth.

This is my “100 day plan” if I were to ever be prime minister for NZ. As a prime minister I would be as hands on as possible. Helping out in the community and in times of need. I would also ensure that when debating laws that involve other parties (Maori, trans, etc) I would have their opinion heard and work alongside them to create the best plan for them. Being prime minister is not about being in control, and proving powerful among the masses. It is about working alongside the nation to create a world and community we are proud of. To do that, you have to involve the community.


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Poverty in New Zealand – It exists and it’s bigger than you think (aka, screw you damien grant)

You want to talk poverty? Don’t compare a first world country – one with numerous cities and on par to huge countries like Australia and United States of America – to a small village in the pacific nations…You don’t compare an apple to orange do you? (I bet you do – then complain that they taste different…) If both Amnesty International, AND Unicef are making reports and condemning New Zealand’s child poverty, you know it not only exists, but that it’s exceptionally bad.

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Courtesy of: http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

You say there’s no poverty in New Zealand – how can there be? We have free education, it’s the families and children that don’t care to turn up. But free as it may be, free isn’t always so. Sure, the education is free – but things add up. The price of petrol or a bus fare each day – twice a day – is something that you probably didn’t think about. And what about a child in primary school and a child in high school? More petrol, more money. The price of school supplies and even a school uniform doesn’t come free. The education is free, but what good is that education if you don’t a have a book to write it down in? Compulsory camps and excursions aren’t free either…you see, free is never truly free.

And then to further the education scheme – tertiary education. National wants to make student loans have an interest rate. If you start doing that, you will see less youth seeking out tertiary study options therefore raising the risk of unemployment sufficiently – when it’s already at an alarming high. This begins the cycle again.

You sing his praises, and maybe John Key did increased the welfare amount but that doesn’t mean it’s still a livable amount. Say living costs were at 100$ per week (I know, in what world!) and welfare was 100$ a week – that means that those on the welfare can get by, without being able to save for any future costs that may come up (a car breaking down, urgent home repairs etc), but they can survive. Then living costs increase to 200$ per week – because the economy is like that – but the government goes “Oh, if the living cost has increased, we need to increase the amount we give too!” And so welfare amount goes to 150$. It has increased, sure. But it doesn’t mean it’s livable and morally right.

“The poorest kiwi child enjoys access to an unrivaled bounty of inexpensive food” – before I even start, enjoys??? I don’t know about you but I don’t think I would enjoy being in poverty. Inexpensive food is correct, New Zealand does have some great and cheap options for food. But you see the problem with cheap food is that it’s not all that nutritionally valuable. It holds barely (if any) vitamins, minerals, or good fats. There aren’t copious amounts of protein like in your delicious quinoa you probably have twice a week there Mr Grant. This then causes children to fall sick. The Nelson Hospital Emergency Department is likely to see a child every day with a preventable condition. Why wasn’t it prevented? Because of things like diet. But it’s okay because they have meat on their bones, you can’t see their skeleton, so all must be well. At least they have access to that free healthcare right?!

Wrong. While it is free, kudos to that, it doesn’t mean it’s up to the standard it should be if we claim we truly are an amazing country. My brother was sent home numerous amounts of times when he had appendix issues because he wasn’t dying, and there weren’t enough beds. He spend years in and out of hospital because of this – and we weren’t even poor. Can you imagine how it would have been for someone who didn’t have money? You say it doesn’t matter, it’s free! But it does. If you look poor, they treat you as poor. “Oh it’s just a cold” and send you home. Low and behold we have need of a heart transplant because that cold was actually strep throat that became rheumatic fever and destroyed the child’s heart. “Oh but hospital staff wouldn’t discriminate!” But they do. They’re human. If you can tell me that poverty doesn’t exist while you sip your imported tea and a child somewhere else misses a meal, then I’m pretty sure hospital staff can discriminate.

A roof over your head doesn’t mean you are protected from the outside elements. State housing is free, cool! But is it safe? Children may have a roof over there heads, but the mould growing on those roofs and the walls they live in doesn’t do them any wonders. Respiratory issues, skin infections, and other illnesses can all be caused by an unsafe house. DR Nick Baker of Nelson Hospital told stuff this: “We have a number of babies we’ve looked after in the newborn unit, babies that have been born prematurely, and it’s really hard to send them home because there isn’t a home for them to go to.” – This was written in July, of 2017. A month ago…But it’s okay because poverty doesn’t exist.

It’s really easy for someone who hasn’t been poor to assume that these are the only issues someone faces or requires when living and being in poverty. The fact that you don’t have to think about spending additional money on petrol or buses, or on nutritional food – the fact that you think your wealth doesn’t impact your access and treatment in free settings such as hospitals is proof of your lack of understanding of what it means to be poor and to be able to afford basic necessities.

People don’t want Jacinda because shes “”dramatic and exciting”, or because she has “rock-star appeal”. People want Jacinda because she’s young, she’s not rich, and she knows how it is to be young and living in New Zealand facing the troubles we see today. You say we don’t have child poverty? I say, take a look down the streets in the neighbourhoods you’re too scared to go to. The ones you avoid because you think you’re going to have something stolen. Take a look at the mould in their homes, take a look at the children struggling to have a childhood similar to the one you had, take a look at the kids that are in poverty, and are being told it doesn’t exist.


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Metiria Turei Situation – Careful NZ, your discrimination against poor people is showing

Other than a nuclear war threat to the US and the escalation made by Trumpet-man, the worst thing to happen today was the resignation made by Metiria Turei. I understand her reasoning behind handing it in, but I resent the reasoning for why she had to even do such a thing.

When she came out with the truth, I honestly thought “finally! Someone is finally saying the flaws with the beneficiary system!” It seems the majority of New Zealand didn’t feel the same way. They wanted her resignation from the day she spoke, but she knew she had to fight – it wasn’t her life anymore but it was still thousands upon thousands of New Zealanders lives. It’s not just the beneficiary system either – the way New Zealand citizens view poor people, single mothers, and disabled people is inhumane. They are treated like a plague we don’t want to catch, but who’s own fault it is that they caught it themselves.

As a member of the New Zealand community, I want my tax paying money to be spent appropriately. I don’t want it to contribute to spending millions on police forces that are refusing to allow those on antidepressants work, or millions on a stall in a foreign show in hopes to attract international produce buyers. I want my tax dollars to pay for the mothers scared they won’t be able to put food on the table each night, I want my tax dollars to ensure that these people on a benefit are treated like humans – not like the underground of society; the uncle we don’t mention at family gatherings. As members of NZ, it is our job to keep each other above water. We aren’t meant to watch rich end on dry land, and poor tread water for too long they drown – but we do.

The media focused on the wrong thing and now beneficiaries that are struggling have no light shed on their situation via news media. There was a whole hashtag on twitter “IAmMetiria” and “#IStandWithMetiria” and yet did you see a news report on the thousands of New Zealanders telling their stories of being on the benefit and struggling to get by, or being treated like nothing but an annoyance? Did they bring in other beneficiaries to say “you know what, the system IS flawed and it DOES need fixing”? No. They just played with fire to create a reality show fit for TV and computer screens.

The main point of the story wasn’t that a young mother lied many years back, but that she had to – that a system was so flawed that to survive she had to rig the system. What would you have rather happened? Her and her daughter die from starvation or from health issues? Then you would be complaining that she should’ve tried harder to get more money…at some point you have to stop fighting it and realise that our perfect country isn’t so perfect. That we may treat our people like kings and queens- as long as they’re rich and look the part.

What about Todd Barclay and Bill English? Why did that only last three days in the media? That was far worse than anything Metiria did. Bill English even claimed more than $900 per week (twice what is eligible for an MP), and now owes $32,000…and that was for a house. Metiria owed $7800, for trying to put food on her table for her kid…New Zealand has the wrong priorities and I am so mad that we are willing to let a rich man slide for something done while in parliament for nothing but a luxury, but punish someone who couldn’t get by and couldn’t survive before entering parliament. It is a sad day for my faith in New Zealand today. I have never felt more alone and in this fight on my own than now.

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Old vs. New: Why Raising the Retirement Age Shouldn’t Be A Topic…

If you’re even remotely up-to-date with New Zealand news, you’ll know there has been talk about raising the superannuation age. It currently sits at 65, but one party wants to raise it to 67 by 2040.

National leader Bill English confirmed on that if National were to be re-elected they would indeed raise the superannuation age to 67. Other leaders have come out in opposition and said they would not raise the age above the already standing 65 years.

Why is it a bad idea to raise the retirement age? Shouldn’t we promote continued working among those healthy enough to do so? Yes we should. We already do. The superannuation is available to those 65+, meaning those that are healthy and willing to work past 65 years can. But that those who are in pain, worn out, or just don’t want to work into their old age can retire. Raising the age would mean that people are staying in their jobs. We already have an issue with youth unemployment, mostly due to lack of job opportunities. If we don’t take out what we are putting in (i.e, we add workers without any leaving) then we end up with no job openings for those entering the fields. A reason our youth find it so hard to get a job is because their are no openings because the older generations are having to work longer to meet requirements of the superannuation. The reason Bill English doesn’t see this as an issue is because he believes youth are high on the job drug users unable to pass drug tests. He claims the youth are druggies at fault for the unemployment rates. He refuses to acknowledge that the elderly having to wait longer (67 years) to be eligible for the superannuation will have hazardous effects on the youth employment.

Yes our average life span is increasing, but he’s forgetting that the youth are what see the life increase. If we can’t provide New Zealand youth with steady employment, how are they meant to pay for groceries? How are they meant to afford medications they need to stay healthy? While our life span may be the highest it’s been, it can fall too. It’s not ever a set-in-stone age. If we don’t nurture and protect our youth then they won’t be around as long as today’s generation. We have children in poverty – New Zealand is notorious for it’s high poverty among first world countries. We have taken care of our elderly, we need to begin to take care of our children. Raising the superannuation age will not benefit our children and youth at all – in fact it will hinder them most. No longer will their grandparents be able to look after them and spent time with the kids, they will be too busy having to work. Kids won’t be able to spend an afternoon at Nan’s because she’ll be in the office.

Bill English (and National) are very much like my parents – they believe that the youth are lazy and the reason they don’t get a job or can’t buy a house is because they’re too lazy. Forgetting that they did not have to pay for tertiary study. Forgetting that they did not have the housing market of 2017…a house that would have cost them 350,000$ in 1999, will now cost anywhere upwards of 500,000$. They live in a very bubble world where everything is exactly how it was back then. I get that they worked hard and have done enough, but what on earth does raising the superannuation have to do with them working hard? If that was your argument wouldn’t you want to lower it? Let them have more time relaxing in retirement?

Give our youth  the employment opportunities you’re so ready to give to the elderly. They have had a good run, a long run. Pretend, for a moment, you give a damn about our children and their futures.