Maybe not so stupid af­ter all!

Central Leader - - News -

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 off­ or write care of this news­pa­per.

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