Finally, a study by the NZ Ministry of Education recognises that computer and tablet-based learning in primary school-aged children is linked to our students' decline in reading (NZ Herald, November 23). International studies
show declines in several other areas of learning as well in this age group.
While the quoted professor of digital learning is probably correct in saying the best learning apps have distractions and hyperlinks removed (Sunshine readers having just been mentioned), research shows that because of differences in the way we read online compared to in print, these apps are still not the best option for reading generally in primary-aged children.
This was a great article for parents to take to discuss with their children's teachers, principals and boards of trustees; and BYOD policies in this age group need to be questioned.
Many New Zealanders may not be aware that, overall, our children's use of tablets and computers in the classroom is the highest in the world; it is not simply the norm and an inevitable reaction to a "digital future" that young children spend significant proportions of each school day learning on a tablet.
Julie Cullen, Sensible Screen Use.
There seems to be a general belief that people are investing in residential property because of the unmatched tax benefits that are supposed to apply on resale.
However, in New Zealand, an individual can choose to invest their money into company shares, farms, commercial buildings, businesses, even into classic cars and artwork and, in most cases, quite legally pay no tax on any profit they may make when they sell that asset at a later date.
The reality is that there is no unique taxation benefit that applies only to residential investment property and to no other investment.
Thus any moves to impose such a tax will be to impose a specific penalty rather than to close an unfair tax loophole.
As Sir Michael Cullen stated, during the deliberations of the Tax Working Group: "It is hard to understand why those renting out properties, a necessary part of the housing market, should be singled out from all others who benefit from the largely unearned increment derived from the almost inexorable rise in land prices."
Peter Lewis, Forrest Hill.
It would seem that few get the point about Stuart Nash's policy on attracting wealthy tourists and one wonders whether he presented it with the right focus. That is, the image of New Zealand being a clean green country must be kept sacrosanct so that tourists regardless of wealth continue to be attracted to this country.
There is not the slightest doubt that backpackers using non-contained vehicles as their homes not only put the environment at risk but also the health of residents. Councils have recognised this and have tried to balance economic advantage over tourist image and local revulsion.
This fragmented approach makes it difficult for any tourists to come to terms with camping regulations freedom or otherwise.
The best thing Stuart Nash could do would be to first consult all councils, tourism bodies and other interested parties and then come up with regulations that would be best for this country.
Reg Dempster, Albany.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash is on the right track suggesting that we try to attract wealthier tourists to come to New Zealand.
In July last year, we introduced a $35 levy for all tourists, other than Pacific Islanders and Australians, despite protests it would "ruin tourism in New Zealand". (It is obvious that it didn't do that). It is timely that this fee be dramatically increased, to say $300 or $350.
The fee should continue to be split between local councils and the Department of Conservation.
Tourists who arrive but complain about the levy can be assured that it is used to improve their experience in New Zealand.
At the same time, substantial instant fines should be introduced to all who are caught defecating outside and the practice of rental campervan companies in offering a refund when the van's toilet has not been used has to stop. Providing money to encourage travellers to poop in the bushes must provide the wrong message to tourists.
While we have a tourism halt, now is the time to set our new parameters.
John Potter, Takapuna.
I have a vivid memory from 20 years ago of being in a dentist's waiting room while he explained forcefully to a businessman that his 14-year-old son in his private school uniform had rotted all his teeth because of his consumption of several cans of cola every day. This had stripped the enamel from his teeth and they could not be saved.
The businessman may have had the financial resources to pay for remedial cosmetic dental surgery for his son. Poor people don't have that luxury.
Peter Davis (NZ Herald, November 19) refers to the 2000-plus children in Auckland alone from disadvantaged families who currently have severe tooth decay, and the failure of successive governments to take action on reducing sugar consumption in drinks.
Various concerned groups have lobbied over the years for preventive measures on high-sugar drinks. It seems the food and drink corporate lobbyists are more powerful, ensuring such destructive lifelong outcomes for our most vulnerable children, purely for the sake of their increased profits.
Dara McNaught, Ōtāhuhu.
Re: your editorial on Afghanistan (NZ Herald, November 24). This fire was begun by our own Lord Auckland along with inept generals who, against advice, decided to invade and sack Kabul. Not only did this cause thousands of civilian deaths but the whole of the British force died in their return in the Khyber Pass along with their families who fed and looked after the mostly Indian troops. A year later, the pass was strewn with bones big and small. Another punitive expedition followed and Auckland resigned.
We need to ask why our city is named after a butcher and a major road named after the site of an inglorious defeat. We have a widely used alternative in Tāmaki Makaurau
The bones of the slaughtered of 1839 have now been joined by Russian and American ones with little signs of a definitive solution. We may deplore aspects of the opposing sides but Korea, Vietnam Iraq and Afghanistan should tell us to keep out of others' disputes.
John Scott Werry, Mt Eden.
Late last week, the Auckland Transport boss optimistically reported that there was a 90-95 per cent compliance with face-coverings at Britomart (NZ Herald, November 20). Today (Monday) I took a trip on the 325 Māngere to Manukau bus route. During my part of the journey, there were seven adult passengers. Two of us wore masks, five did not.
Anecdotal findings based upon small numbers may be misleading and unfair. Nonetheless, they do suggest a significant indifference and contempt among users of public transport for these rules.
This is particularly disappointing and irresponsible considering there is unanimity that masking is the single most effective prophylaxis when dealing with the virus pending the arrival of a vaccine. History tells us that you cannot rely solely on altruism and goodwill in these circumstances. Obedience will not increase without the threat of quite strict penalties which are actually and dependably enforced.
As a start, perhaps drivers could be instructed to simply leave passengers at the bus stop if they are not already suitably masked before boarding.
Nigel Shaw, Clover Park.
Re: "Criticising China" (NZ Herald, November 23), which ended with a threat brimming with Chinese characteristics: "the US needs indulge in serious soul-searching before they escalate hostilities against China".
We, the whole free world, do require some urgent soul-searching. If genocide is our enemy, then we must not fear hostilities with the Chinese Communist Party, which is currently perpetrating multiple genocides, both physical and cultural. And if we believe that "it is wrong to punish the Uighurs for wanting to retain their culture" - similarly with the Mongols and Tibetans - then it is right to raise our concern with diplomatic means.
Moreover, if we are against the colonial menaces like those listed in the letter, then how can we not criticise the CCP, which has been threatening countless countries around the globe, including ourselves, New Zealand?
Roger Su, Auckland Central.
Short & sweet
Surely there is a good case for house prices to be included in the calculation of the CPI that is controlled by the Reserve Bank. Gary Andrews, Mt Maunganui.
You have included advice (NZ Herald, November 23) on how to get the best bargains on "Black Friday". If we are to follow American traditions, are we also going to be encouraged to participate in "Giving Tuesday" which always follows? Viv Muir, fundraising coordinator, Communicare.
The future ex-President Trump might regret building the Mexican border wall when the law comes after him for past tax irregularities and sexual harassment. Peter Culpan, Te Atatū Peninsula.
There remains a certain irony in Australia deporting criminals. As most people are aware, that's how Australia really started. Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
We must continue to protect libraries, nurture book reading, keep technology as a tool, not a replacement for reading books. Laurie Ross, Glen Eden.
No one objects to an appropriate Erebus memorial. However the overpowering size and siting on the small patch of green lawn in Parnell was objected to by the majority of local citizens. Jennifer Goodman, Parnell.
Weren't there several Pak'n Save and New World owners on the NBR Rich List last year? Those guys do not count their money; they weigh it. Sandra Frost, Ahuriri.