Environment – Free water testing for Ashburton and Temuka – Greenpeace

Source: Greenpeace

Saturday July 10th 2021
Greenpeace is conducting free drop-in water testing in Ashburton today and in Temuka tomorrow, to enable households to check their drinking water for nitrate contamination.
Local residents are invited to bring 100mL of their bore water in a clean container to the Mid Canterbury Community House, 44 Cass St, Ashburton, anytime today between 10am – 2pm. 
Greenpeace is running the testing event in conjunction with the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers, and is conducting the testing using a spectrometer machine owned by the federation.
The testing comes as health concerns are being raised over high levels of nitrate contamination in drinking water supplies, including adverse birth outcomes and increased rates of bowel cancers.
Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel says the testing is an essential service for the community, and will bolster understanding about nitrate contamination in New Zealand.
“Everyone should be able to trust that the water from their tap is clean and safe. Unfortunately, nitrate contamination is a growing concern for people in areas with intensive dairying, such as Canterbury, Southland and Waikato. Bore owners in these regions deserve to know what’s happening with their water,” says Abel.
“Nitrate contamination of drinking water has been linked to health concerns ranging from bowel cancer to premature births. We know what is causing this spike in nitrate contamination in our drinking water: too much synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, too many cows, and too much cow urine.
“Local and central governments need to act fast to ensure safe drinking water for our communities by phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, lowering cow stocking rates and supporting farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming.”
Greenpeace is calling on the Government to lower the limit for nitrate contamination in water from 11.3mg/L to 0.87mg/L in line with international research, and act on it by phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, lowering cow stocking rates and supporting farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming.

Greenpeace renews call to ban plastic bottles following dangerous levels of microplastics discovered around BOP moana

Source: Greenpeace

Following the Government’s recent announcement to phase out single-use plastics, a University of Waikato study has revealed “extremely high levels” of microplastics around Bay of Plenty moana.
University of Waikato master of science student Anita Lewis found the particles in every sediment sample she took from across the region, between Tauranga Harbour and the eastern coast to Maketu and Ōpōtiki. It is also sparking health concerns for the people who live in the marine ecosystem.
Greenpeace Aotearoa plastics campaigner, Juressa Lee, says the findings illustrate the need for a more comprehensive ban on unnecessary single-use plastic products like plastic drink bottles.
“The findings are horrendous; there was not one area sampled where microplastics were not present. There were particularly high levels in shellfish, including tuatua, cockles and wedge shells,” she says.
“This shows that the Government’s recently announced plan to phase out some ‘difficult to recycle single-use plastic items’ does not go far enough. We need to see bolder action that eliminates single-use plastic bottles which are one of the most pervasive contributors to plastic pollution on land and sea.
Greenpeace Aotearoa continues to call for the ban to cover a wider range of products including single-use plastic drink bottles like Coke, Pepsi and Pump which ultimately break down into microplastics in the ocean.
“The Labour Government’s new commitment to phase out single-use plastics puts us on the right track but it isn’t enough. We need to go further if we are to ever find our way back from this plastic pollution crisis,” says Lee.
Greenpeace Aotearoa’s petition to “ban the bottle” now has over 80,000 signatures and the organisation is vowing to renew its efforts to eliminate throwaway plastic bottles.

Activist Sector and Events – 40th anniversary of 1981 Springbok Tour Protests

Source: John Minto

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour to New Zealand and the protests which reverberated around the world from it.

Former National Organiser for HART (Halt all Racist Tours) John Minto is traveling around the country holding meetings in all the centres which hosted the Springboks in 1981 on the actual dates of the games.

“We will be celebrating the protests against apartheid in South Africa and stepping up the campaign against apartheid in Israel” says John Minto.

The tour had a big impact in South Africa and a lasting impact in New Zealand by deepening the debate about racism in our own backyard.

The details of the public meetings along the way are on the poster pasted below.

Speaking at the meetings we have various combinations of protest leaders from 1981, former All Blacks, Iwi leaders, a former Red Squad Inspector, South Africans and Palestinians.

The meetings are public and media representatives are warmly invited to attend and report on them.

Background to apartheid in Israel:

2021 has been a turning point in the Palestinian struggle as the wider world now understands Israel as an apartheid state.

Palestinians and South Africans have always seen Israel in this light.

Nobel-Peace-Prize-winner and good friend of New Zealand, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described Israeli apartheid as worse than that suffered by Black South Africans.

“I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid,” says Tutu.

“We could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through… non-violent means, such as boycotts and disinvestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime”

Of Israel Tutu says the world should “Call it apartheid and boycott!”

In January this year the largest and most respected Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem released a landmark report calling Israel “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”. In its report B’Tselem says: “the terms we have used in recent years to describe the situation – such as “prolonged occupation” or a“one-state reality” – are no longer adequate…

In eight pages they detail what they describe as the “four major methods the Israeli regime uses to advance Jewish supremacy”: “Immigration – for Jews only”; “Taking over land for Jews while crowding Palestinians in enclaves”; “Restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement” and “Denial of Palestinians’ right to political representation” and concludes:

“These accumulated measures, their pervasiveness in legislation and political practice, and the public and judicial support they receive – all form the basis for our conclusion that the bar for labelling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met…”

“…A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime…”

B’Tselem was joined in April by the huge US-based, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning organisation Human Rights Watch which released a 213-page report detailing how Israeli policies constitute “crimes of apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians.

John Minto
Former National Organiser for HART (Halt All Racist Tours)
Current National Chair PSNA (Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa)

Tech Sector – Fusion5 recognised as the winner of 2021 Microsoft New Zealand Partner of the Year

Source: FUSION5

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – July 9, 2021 – Fusion5 today announced it has won the 2021 Microsoft New Zealand Partner of the Year Award. The company was honoured among a global field of top Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology.
Rebecca Tohill, Fusion5 Chief Executive, says the award recognises its commitment to using Microsoft technologies to enable its customers to thrive and transform in these challenging times. “Our Microsoft practice is considerably younger than many in the New Zealand market however we believe our timing has been perfect and from the outset we’ve maintained a relentless focus on business outcomes. We take huge pride in being a partner that delivers what we promise – integrity and business success. The Partner of the Year Award singles us out not only for attracting outstanding customer feedback, but demonstrating a strong track record of growth. You don’t grow in an economy and country like ours, where word-of-mouth is so powerful, without being very good at what you do.”
The Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards recognize Microsoft partners that have developed and delivered outstanding Microsoft-based solutions during the past year. Awards were classified in various of categories, with honourees chosen from a set of more than 4,400 submitted nominations from more than 100 countries worldwide. Fusion5 was recognised for providing outstanding solutions and services in New Zealand.
“I am honoured to announce the winners and finalists of the 2021 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards,” said Rodney Clark, corporate vice president, Global Partner Solutions, Channel Sales and Channel Chief, Microsoft. “These remarkable partners have displayed a deep commitment to building world-class solutions for customers-from cloud-to-edge-and represent some of the best and brightest our ecosystem has to offer.”
Since starting its Microsoft consultancy in 2016, Fusion5 has won multiple awards for a range of projects and has been named to the exclusive Microsoft Business Applications Inner Circle for four years running. Kristy Brown, Fusion5 Director for Customer Engagement and Collaboration, attributes Fusion5’s success to the business’s strategic commitment to move away from a traditional IT provider doing what’s instructed to one that has thought-leadership and advisory and its core. “We invest in outstanding people so we can deliver the best quality Microsoft solutions in the most innovative way. Our Microsoft visionaries are charged with keeping our delivery consultants abreast of the very latest technology developments, so we can dedicate ourselves to continuously improving our customers’ solutions.”
Fusion5’s Microsoft practice across its nine offices in New Zealand and Australia has nearly 50% of its 500 plus staff engaged in Microsoft solutions, and rising.
About Fusion5 

Fusion5 offers a full range of digital transformation business solutions, applications, consulting services, cloud, and managed services as well as first-class support and training. Their expertise covers all key functional business areas, including Enterprise Resource Planning, HR/Payroll, Customer Relationship & Experience Management, IT Service Management, and Infrastructure. They are also known for vertical-specific solutions developed across several key industries.
Currently, the company has over 900 customers, spanning multiple countries. Fusion5 is recognised as a leading partner for a range of global technologies including Microsoft, NetSuite, Oracle JD Edwards, IBM and Ivanti.

Employment – Student Job Search takes out prestigious award for driving excellence in social purpose

Source: Student Job Search Aotearoa

Up against a number of large corporate recruitment agencies, Student Job Search (SJS) has been recognised for Excellence in Social Purpose with from Australasia’s peak body for the employment industry, the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association of Australia & NZ (RCSA).
SJS’s contributions to the New Zealand employment landscape has earnt the not-for-profit an award for Excellence in Social Purpose, announced at yesterday evenings RCSA Industry Awards function in Auckland.
For the last financial year, SJS has empowered 27,437 students into jobs, earning them a total of $112.9 million in income, despite the lasting effects of COVID-19.
Since March this year, as a result of a new focus on providing full-time, permanent jobs for students after graduation, SJS has secured over 3,742 full-time roles for students – a 200 percent increase on previous years.
SJS has also secured 11 graduate programmes, totaling 98 positions across Xero, NZX, Datacom and BDO to name a few, and has driven a 14.8 percent increase in SJS registrations from Māori and Pasifika students.
Average student earnings through SJS in May 2021 are up 46 percent compared to May pre-COVID.
“It is awesome to be recognised for the great work our people do to champion students into employment, enable whānau and communities to prosper and support the New Zealand economy”, says Student Job Search Chief Executive, Suzanne Boyd.
“Our Service Excellence Manager Mischa and her teams have driven some outstanding outcomes recently, and it is great to see that acknowledged today.”
Service Excellence Manager Mischa Douglas says she is thrilled to see SJS recognised for its contribution to social purpose and dedication to pastoral care for students throughout the employment process.
“Students need opportunities to be financially independent – SJS gives them the opportunities to support themselves financially, to enter study and remain in study too.
“We’re proud to be the place that empowers them do that, and to be recognised for this with the Excellence in Social Purpose award.”

Employment and Business – EMA states Fair Pay Agreements not the Future of the Workplace

Source: EMA

Inflexible, compulsory national awards are not the future of the workplace for employers or for employees says the Employers and Manufacturers Association.
“The fact the Government is pursuing these agreements in the face of contrary advice from officials within MBIE highlights they are a step back in industrial relations for New Zealand,” says EMA CEO Brett O’Riley.
Mr O’Riley said it was widely agreed by employers, the union movement and even current government ministers that the future of work was an adaptable, fast-moving and flexible workplace.
“Why then would we go back to a system of central, inflexible regulation that removes the ability of individual employers to work with their own workforce in setting terms and conditions suitable to an individual workplace and removes the ability for individual employees to negotiate working arrangements that suit their circumstances?”
The MBIE paper also points out that the compulsory nature of negotiating these agreements may also breach international obligations around bargaining as set out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Awards – Jamie McIntyre wins Gisborne Young Grower of the Year regional final

Source: Horticulture New Zealand

Jamie McIntyre, 25, an orchard hand at Illawarra Farms, has won the 2021 Gisborne Young Grower of the Year competition.
‘What a day and I’m really stoked,’ said Jamie.
‘This is the best job you can have. I love what I do as growing is such a fantastic lifestyle choice. I am passionate about growing and want to share what happens on our orchards, so more people can have a slice of the lifestyle that we can all lead.’
Jamie will represent the Gisborne growing community in the national Young Grower of the Year competition in Wellington on 22-23 September, where six other regional finalists will compete for their share of $30,000 worth of prizes.
Horticulture New Zealand President, Barry O'Neil said all the contestants have a bright future ahead of them, in the $6.5 billion plus and growing New Zealand export and domestic horticulture industry.
‘All contestants can be really proud of what they have achieved today and the industry they are a vibrant part of,’ said Barry.
‘But with the rapid rate of change and number of challenges facing the industry, we need to support and nurture these talented young growers. Competitions like the Young Grower of the Year give young people invaluable experience, to help them start their journey as the leaders of tomorrow. People like Jamie show that the future of the industry is in safe and capable hands.
‘The horticulture industry has a lot to offer. It's a rewarding career for those who want to help feed New Zealand and the world healthy food, while helping our country to meet environmental and climate change mitigation goals.’

Property Sector – Interest deductibility changes unlikely to increase housing supply

Source: Property Council


On the eve of the Government’s consultation on changes to interest deductibility closing, Property Council New Zealand has written to the Government to rethink its approach to getting more houses built, says Property Council New Zealand Chief Executive Leonie Freeman. 


“Our members have been clear. The Government’s proposed changes to interest deductibility rules will have a significant chilling effect on increasing supply at scale and pace. 


“We support the Government using its whole toolbox to build more houses. In our view, the proposed changes make it less likely people are going to help the Government build more houses for Kiwis. 


“While exempting new builds is encouraging, the Government has an array of levers it can pull to incentivise more housing to be built that don’t pull the rug out from under the feet of developments.” 


Property Council has seen increasing interest in Build-to-Rent development, a new asset class that aims to provide long-term rentals where tenants are treated as customers.  


“To amplify the potential of Build-to-Rent, the Government needs to create the right settings,” says Freeman. 


“We have specifically requested the Government exempt Build-to-Rent developments from the interest deductibility proposal to encourage this dynamic new asset class. Feedback we have had is compelling – these rule changes will make it much more difficult for Build-to-Rent’s potential to be unlocked.  


“The Government has long said it aims to tackle New Zealand’s housing crisis and help more Kiwis into homes. It should not be tinkering with tax settings to make developments more difficult. 


“Instead of robbing Peter to pay themselves, the Government should focus on reforming planning laws, allowing councils to free up more land, supporting the development of local infrastructure and reducing costs and red tape on new supply to house more New Zealanders.”


About Property Council New Zealand 


Property Council New Zealand is the leading advocate for New Zealand’s largest industry – property. 


A not-for-profit organisation, the Property Council connects more than 15,000 property professionals, championing the interests of over 500 member companies who have a collective $50 billion investment in New Zealand property. 


Our membership is broad and includes some of the largest commercial and residential property owners and developers in New Zealand. The property industry comes together at our 80+ Property Council events, which offer professional development, exceptional networking and access to industry-leading research. 


Property Council acts as a collective voice, giving our members a seat at the table with policy makers, ensuring they make informed decisions that benefit our industry whilst enabling a strong economy and thriving communities. 



Human Rights – Amnesty International statement on incident at Pūtiki Point

Source: Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

The following statement can be attributed to Meg de Ronde, Executive Director at Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand:
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at a video of an incident at Pūtiki Point on Waiheke Island.
Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly, to protest, and to freedom of expression. This by nature can involve a certain level of disruption. Police must ensure that responses to such disruption are still legal, necessary, proportionate, and non-discriminatory and do not lead to restrictions that put the right to protest in jeopardy.
Whilst there may be legitimate restriction of access to private property, excessive use of force is by nature illegitimate, and law enforcement have an obligation to ensure the safety of all people involved. Excessive violence is never acceptable.
The right to protest must be protected. We will also be discussing our concerns re the interactions at Pūtiki Point in our meeting with the Police Commissioner on Tuesday.
We call on law enforcement to urgently investigate these incidents and ensure the safety of all at Pūtiki Point.

Motor Sport – Gaunt is Castrol TRS King of Stats

Source: Toyota

As the clock counts down towards the 2022 Castrol Toyota Racing Series and its 18th season, some number crunching at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand of the previous 17 championships has revealed some outstanding high achievers – none more so than Daniel Gaunt.

Gaunt, of course, has some very recent 'history' in the category having led a large chunk of the New Zealand Grand Prix earlier this year before being passed by the unstoppable Shane van Gisbergen.

He's also been a regular test driver for the FT60 in the last year or two and of course partnered Tayler Bryant to success in the Toyota 86 endurance series at the end of 2020 with a couple of very impressive drives that showed he had lost none of his pace or prowess.
What the statistics revealed, however, is that across all of the numbers combined he is the most successful Castrol Toyota Racing Series driver there has been in the history of the category – a fact he achieved not just with speed, but also with remarkable consistency.
The 'purest' measure of course, is on wins and Daniel tops the table with 20 wins, three ahead of Earl Bamber and Andy Knight. His consistency is apparent when second and third place finishes are also added up. Daniel has the second highest tally of seconds and the highest tally of thirds. In total Gaunt has made an incredible 47 appearances on the TRS podium – so far……
Despite being outside of the top five in terms of TRS races entered, he also is the second highest all-time points scorer, just 22 behind Knight's 4259 all-time haul. Both Knight and Gaunt are also comfortably ahead of the third placed scorer in the stats, Ben Harford who's a good margin ahead of Earl Bamber and the Leitch brothers Damon and Brendon.  Showing he's a speed merchant as well as a racer, Gaunt also sits second in the all-time list of pole position holders, though the comfortable leader there is Mitch Evans on 20.
“It's incredible to look back at these stats,” said Gaunt. “You don't realise that what you're doing at the time is going to stand the test of time. There have been some incredibly talented drivers come through TRS.  My advice to young guys would be to stop, take the time and enjoy the achievement and moments along the way….”
Also evident in the statistics was just how international the championship has been over the years.

The championship is fast approaching 20 drivers who have gone on to test or race at the pinnacle of the sport – F1 -and that statistic will of course come soon enough, but drivers from no fewer than 39 countries have graced the tracks of New Zealand with their skills.  New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain sit in the top three positions in those stats to date.