The Minister of Education tabled in April a comprehensive and substantial report of Tomorrow's Schools (1989/2019), carried out by leading educationalists, research authorities and business leaders, with the intention of evaluating the schooling system that grandly proclaims "excellence for all".
The report, which will not be news to anyone in the teaching profession, is that the system has failed to deliver educational outcomes of consequence for a substantial number of school students.
Some key findings in the report? School funding is "not fit for purpose"; a significant number of school boards are failing; educational outcomes for disadvantaged students are well below expectations; Māori and Pacific Islands students as well as those with learning needs are "poorly served"; The Ministry Of Education lacks the ability to influence schools, lacking capacity and capability to do so; and a final, crushing blow - if one is needed - is that the Education Review Office is "unable" to review schools adequately.
International Educational Testing carried out on 60-plus countries would certainly support these findings. New Zealand has plummeted in world ratings, particularly in reading and maths, in the past 10 years.
It seems curious the Government wished to introduce compulsory New Zealand history to a system in disarray.
Jim McTamney, Mount Maunganui.
That litre of petrol you pay at the pump was the price petrol companies paid six months ago. It takes that long to filter through to the consumer. To think that the current bombings in Saudi Arabia will suddenly cause the price of petrol to rise is dishonest.
The Government has promised to do something about petrol giants fleecing customers. Now's their chance to act.
Neil Hatfull, Warkworth.
Isn't it magnificent that the oil companies are so fantastically capable of pumping oil out of the Middle-Eastern ground, loading it into supersonic supertankers, shipping it to New Zealand, processing it at the refinery, piping it to storage in Auckland and, finally, delivering it around the city in supersonic road tankers on supersonic roads; all in 24 hours?
Do they think we're that stupid? Yes, they do.
Now, c'mon Jacinda – this is a rort with a woollen fleece.
Robert Finley, Howick.
Despite the might of the 5th US fleet sitting there "locked and loaded" in the Gulf of Oman, not to mention Saudi Arabia's own annual $295 billion defence budget, still a low-tech Yemeni militia attack has knocked out a Saudi oil processing installation, threatening world oil price chaos, just when the US President was about to sit down with Iran for talks - Oh really!
M Evans, Tamaki.
Your editorial (NZ Herald, September 17) is timely in regard to a recent experience.
I was being attended to by a teller at an ASB branch in Auckland and alongside me were an elderly couple. They had transacted some business and, at the end, the lady presented a cheque to be credited to their account. "No, no," said the teller, "you must put that through the ATM machine." The embarrassment for the couple and others in the vicinity was most unprofessional and unnecessary.
My understanding is that a teller is there to assist with your banking requirements - apparently not.
Ken Carter, Paeroa.
Time to build
How excellent to see the astute Dr Alan Bollard, a past Governor of the Reserve Bank, appointed as the chairman of the NZ Infrastructure Council.
So much important infrastructure has been neglected in NZ for more than half a century, with a Herculean task now to fund any attempted catch up from existing taxation cash flow. Some innovative thinking is therefore needed.
One method, as in many countries, is the public/private partnership regime for building necessary projects, especially new roading.
More importantly, in these times of very low interest rates, government and local bodies could also borrow large, long-term, capital sums at historically low interest rates – perhaps 2 per cent or less, and also have these as commercial bonds traded or discounted on financial markets. Additionally, with a new initiative, where we have a very high immigration rate, these people should have a small determined surcharge on their income
for, say, five to eight years. This as the price of utilising existing infrastructure that has been already paid for by New Zealand taxpayers. A new forward-thinking regime is an urgent and vital necessity.
Hylton Le Grice, Remuera.
Jacinda Ardern is continuing to respond to questions about the sexual assault claim by repeated assertions that she wants the complainants to be heard (NZ Herald, September 17). Surely this should have happened when she and listeners heard about them on Mike Hosking's show as early as August 6.
She needs to give us a clear answer as to why she took no action then. This is what this scandal it is about.
Jacinda is empathetic, concerned and caring - especially about women's issues - so her inaction is baffling and her credibility is on the line.
Grant Lilly, Waiheke.
Cameron Burrow's article "Time to scrap low fixed electricity rate" (NZ Herald, September 16) states that families with high electricity usage "don't qualify for the low rate so they pay a $2 daily rate". Not true.
Every household qualifies for the low daily charge; it's just that they then pay more for each unit of electricity they buy. Going to powerswitch.org.nz and portraying a household as a high user and then as a low user, I get different prices offered by different suppliers.
For convenience, choosing to use Contact's rates, I find that I'm better off with a low daily fixed charge (of just over 30 cents) and a higher unit price until our consumption tops 22 kWh a day. Above that, I'd be better off paying a daily charge of around $2 and getting my electricity cheaper – by about 7 cents a kWh.
Note that 24kWh a day is about the average household usage in New Zealand. So scrubbing the low fixed tariff as Cameron advocates would leave about half the households worse off. Cameron, as chief executive of the Electrical Retailers' Association, must have known this.
Lindsey Roke, Pakuranga Heights.
Fixtures frequently proceed that some people are not interested in, therefore they just don't go along.
If some people are not particularly enamoured with the idea of welcoming the replica of the Endeavour (NZ Herald, September 17) they should simply entertain themselves elsewhere, but not be permitted to try to spoil this special occasion for the numerous others who will be interested.
Those interested include the crew on the craft that is sailing all the way from Tahiti for the event.
Colleen Wright, Botany Downs.
Certain Ngāti Kahu tangata whenua have opposed the Cook commemorations from
Letters: Climate change, petrol supply, Labour scandal and Jacinda Ardern
Letters: Student debt, civic pride, cannabis, acorns, history and the All Blacks
Letters: Whenuapai, healthcare, property flipping and Simon Wilson
entering Mangonui harbour. Their grievances are legitimate. However they do not speak for all Ngāti Kahu or other members of the community. Nor should they.
Cook's demeanour can be applied to all of the human race.
Personal liberty comes from accepting life, not agreeing with it. Our history happened. Here is an opportunity to share all stories about Cook's visits to New Zealand. Make sure bitterness is balanced with reason and a willingness to see the big picture. Many cultures have tried to wipe away their unfortunate histories but it never works because people want to know what went on.
It is human nature to want to know our history. Dictating who shall or shall not visit our shores for others to enjoy is way above the authority of any iwi.
The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.
Mark Lewis-Wilson, Mangonui (Ngāti Kahu/Ngāti Ruaiti).
Sea of plastic
It is great to see retail stores and supermarkets introduce bans on single-use plastic bags. As Year 13 students of Hamilton Girls' High School, we are eager to fulfil the dream of having an environmentally friendly New Zealand. When we hear that plastic makes up about 80 to 85 per cent of marine litter, we feel that we should be doing more.
Our concern is not just about single-use plastic bags, it's also about the hidden plastic that every store in New Zealand uses. Stores continue to have a high level of usage of plastic packaging. Kmart, The Warehouse, Countdown, Pak'nSave, to name a few, all use plastic packaging in their supply chain. We realise it's hard to avoid, but we feel companies should do more to minimise the use of plastic.
We, as consumers, cannot personally change these practices or get rid of this plastic ourselves, it's only companies themselves that can do this. We would urge everyone in New Zealand to question their favourite stores about what they are doing to minimise plastic usage, not just the single bags we used to get as we left the store.
Minimise plastics; maximise our future.
Tabeth Chikunda, Thessalonia Iloa, Fuaifale Tyrell, Hamilton.
Short & Sweet
How can the oil companies start talking about price increases when only 5 per cent of NZs oil comes from Saudi Arabia and the oil at the new price hasn't even been purchased and won't get to NZ for months?
Jock MacVicar, Hauraki.
It is shortsighted to believe the only impact on NZ from the attacks on Saudi oil facilities will be higher petrol prices. Trump has suddenly switched to using the phrase "America and her allies" in discussing military actions against Iran. Robert Myers, Auckland Central.
Call me cynical, but the attack on the Saudi oil refineries has all the hallmarks of the "Black CIA" with its $US200 billion dollar budget. John Oliver, Remuera.
Anthony Blomfield urges Aucklanders to take a deep breath as we have a fantastic political system of government, a fantastic clean and free liberal country and fantastic lime scooters. I took a deep sigh and rolled my eyes upwards. P Salvador, Hobsonville.
After botching three cries for help, Canterbury DHB is lucky the young woman who suffered two strokes under their watch is still alive to receive their belated apology. Mary Tallon, Morningside.
A letter recently bemoans Kiwi drivers as pretty much the worst in the world. Has the writer tried driving in Mexico or Indonesia? Then there are the thrills of driving in Vietnam or my all-time favorite - India. Allan Weeks, Orewa.
Please, just pass it on to the police if you get a complaint. Trying to deal with scandal "in house" never ends well. Jim Carlyle, Te Atatu Peninsula.
Deniers of human-caused global warming are now a minority. Unfortunately, they include powerful politicians like Trump, Bolsonaro and our neighbouring Scott Morrison. Geoff Barlow, Remuera.