Maybe not so stupid after all!
Sequels: Remember the toll foul-ups which began late January on the new north-bound tunnel and motorway? Well, it’s April – and they haven’t stopped.
The evidence: Refunds to umpteen drivers because automatic top-ups became too automatic and doubled up on withdrawals from cards and bank accounts. One report talked of $200,000 handed back in one week, $45,000 in another.
All because of a “data corruption error” – whatever that means.
Remember those very public criticisms of people like us who were uneasy about all that electronic hocus-pocus and who wanted to hand over our cash as we went? The better educated of the letter-writers called us “Luddites” because we had doubts about the electronicallycontrolled wonder road. Other knockers were more direct.
Well, some of them may be rather more thoughtful after the New Zealand Transport Agency was forced to write 200,000 abject letters like these:
“Dear customer, we are emailing to advise you of an account payment error that has unfortunately resulted in a duplicate top-up transaction against your credit card ... please accept our sincere apologies. If as a result of this you incur any bank charges, please contact us so that we can reimburse these for you ... please be assured that the refund will take place tomorrow.”
That’s if the computer system gets it right.
A Puhoi person summed up perfectly: “A Rolls-Royce road with a ’56 Holden IT system.”
Remember how readers of this column, among many others, caused Vogels to reinstate their unsliced loaves after a top-level decision to can them? Well we won that battle but lost the war.
Robert Tingey, St Heliers: “Did you know that the management of Goodman Fielder have taken our favourite bread off the market again? So much for minority market demand and their last reinstatement of unsliced Vogels.”
Vogels complaint department’s battle bulletin: “We reinstated unsliced because of apparent public demand – but the demand wasn’t big enough.”
Remember the gettough boot camp plan with everyone, including the senior Youth Court judge, having their say. Well, like toll troubles, that goes on too.
Bob Rankin, Otahuhu: “Everybody would agree that something has to be done to end the senseless violence but dismissing out of hand the idea of boot camps as one solution deserves a lot closer consideration than you and Judge Becroft have given it. Carting the criminals off to jail is the easy solution but it is hugely expensive and completely non-productive and nonsensical.
“Few criminals were born that way. They are the result of poor upbringing and the breakdown of the caring family unit.
“A return to the days when the primary function of mothers was raising the kids and there was a lot of strict discipline and the expectation of higher standards in school would go a long way towards solving the problem.
“If this is unacceptable in today’s social structure, then perhaps the only option is for the state to inculcate discipline into the youth of the nation.
“The best way I can see this is through the introduction of at least three months of tough military training isolated from society separately for boys and girl at 18 followed by Paula Bennett’s six to nine months intensive monitoring for those who need it.
“I speak from the experience of going through 12 weeks’ basic training on HMNZS Tamaki in the wartime navy at 19. I absolutely hated the harsh discipline and being shouted and sworn at and treated like dirt. But at the end of those 12 weeks I was a different and better person, far more disciplined in myself and self-reliant.
“I believe this was the best thing to have happened in my life.”
Remember the haka ownership rumpus? With the haka-beforethe-tests season just around the rugby corner, the issue is still a topic.
Brenda Walker, Titirangi: “The haka is more than ‘a chant’. It is an awe-inspiring cultural spectacle, indigenous and unique. It is Maori, and for the non-Maori majority that means it is not ours. We cannot lay claim to it.
“Over the years the haka has become an expression of New Zealand identity, especially internationally. New Zealanders love it for the recognition it gives us as Kiwis, and for the exotic dimension it gives our country.
“We should consider how we feel as Kiwis, at the prospect of this New Zealand icon being used around the world for whatever purposes and occasions, by whatever cultures. Wouldn’t we resent this ‘theft’ and the loss of a major symbol of Kiwi identity? If so, then it is not hard to understand why Maori wish to assert ownership rights over what is actually theirs.”
Remember my view that David Lange’s dream about Tomorrow’s Schools was today’s nightmare. At the end of term one, the debate goes on.
George Burrell, the sacked chairman of Selwyn College board – that’s how he asks to be described – and formerly on the board of Ellerslie school: “There is a future for boards of trustees. But if they are to be little more than agents of the Education Ministry, then it makes little difference who is elected.
“The problem with the trustees system is that the democratic side is breaking down. Candidates run for election and state the things they believe need addressing but, once in the job, there is virtually no discretion.
“Another problem is that the NZ Student Trustees Association has been heavily colonised by the Education Ministry – funding/subsidising aspects such as help desk, industrial relations and training. The result is that they cannot really take a battle to any government, other than in obvious issues like ‘more operational funding’ which everyone agrees with anyway.”
Tracey Martin: “As I sit on the boards of two local schools I am aware of the pressures on board of trustees with regard to the running of our schools. You noted that 28 schools had their boards removed by the ministry with a commissioner appointed, just over 1 percent of the approximately 2300 statefunded schools in New Zealand.
“You also noted another 42 schools have acknowledged shortcomings and have accepted help from the ministry and so are working with a statutory manager to improve their systems and their ability to do the job they were elected to by their communities. They should be applauded for accepting help rather than allowing a bad situation to become worse.
“I certainly understand that, like all systems, improvements could be made. Making board training mandatory instead of voluntary would be one such recommendation. The principal is the professional leader of the school, many boards rely on their expertise and advice to manage the areas of responsibility. I am struck in recent board removals by the retention of the principal while dismissing the board when it would seem clear the advice that board has received has been questionable.
“Let’s not ‘ chuck the baby out with the bathwater’ but work on improving what is a system of community input that is actually working well in the majority of schools throughout the country.”
To contact Pat Booth email email@example.com or write care of this newspaper.