Less liveable planet

Whilst our politicians are simply competing for the odd vote here and there, using Covid-19 and our nation's road building in some form as leverage, we are now confronted with an accelerated summary of how much less liveable the entire planet has become. The last remaining intact ice shelf in Canada has broken off, large wildfires in California have created havoc again, Australian wildlife will never recover from the largely preventable wildfires, Lebanese corruption and procrastination finally blew up Beirut's harbour, a plane landing in India splits in two, ocean-life is swimming in a sea of plastic pollution, while clean water and food are not readily available to half the planet's population. No wonder Covid-19 had to lend a hand in slowing down the entire world and make us, as a species, take a good at ourselves and the damage inflicted by commercial abuse, corruption, greed, complacency and procrastination. Delayed action (procrastination) have led us to a point in time where some irreversible damage has cost the planet the chance to regenerate. Our insatiable appetite for relentless consumption may have to be stopped if future generations want edible food, breathable air and drinkable water. Let's (simultaneously) focus on much more important issues, like human values, housing affordability and the welfare of species other than our own too. Improvement is better than indifference.
René Blezer, Taupō

Protecting the elderly

Sweden's short-term high level of Covid-19 deaths does not indicate a failure of the herd immunity strategy; it indicates a failure of the essential corollary: protecting the vulnerable (especially those in rest homes) while the young and strong develop the herd immunity. How well a nation protected its rest homes, largely determined how much death (almost entirely of already-unhealthy elderly) occurs. Britain with a lockdown has even more of this kind of death than Sweden does. There are other examples too. Low death rates, e.g. in Germany, Norway and Denmark, are because they successfully protected their rest homes and because their elderly generally have helpful housing conditions. Real experts are painfully slowly gaining recognition from the incompetent officials, of the fact that viruses linger airborne in some kinds of indoor environments for hours, and inhaling these is the main cause of serious infection. The evidence was clear as early as March.
Phil Hayward, Naenae

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State schools

Simon Collins argues that private schools can pay teachers more and can therefore "buy the best teachers – and the teachers respond". What he fails to consider is that many teachers prefer to teach at state schools and cannot be "bought". I was a teacher at three low-decile schools and spent 39 years teaching at a state school in South Auckland as head of department. I never considered teaching at a private school as I preferred a large multicultural environment where I felt I could make a real impact on the lives of students from less affluent homes and this has given me the greatest satisfaction. State schools do have well-qualified teachers. At the school where I taught, the head of science had a doctorate and other teachers had masters degrees or other university qualifications. However, the most effective teachers are not necessarily those with the highest qualifications. Teaching is more than just getting students through exams. For some teachers, it is the pastoral care and guidance that gives the most satisfaction, and while this can also be a need in private schools, it is at low-decile state schools where this need is the greatest. Although teaching at a low decile state school does come with its challenges, it can also be very rewarding for many teachers.
Annette Perjanik, Mt Roskill

Election safety

I agree that it seems, given recent comments, almost as if the Government and Ministry of Health know that a second Covid-19 wave is imminent or is it simply to ensure that people are well prepared if this does occur? It is almost fear-mongering to a degree and if they are so sure then how safe is it for electioneering to proceed with all of the close-quarter contact at rallies, gatherings and so on? Mothers would do well to be sensible and keep their babies well away from politicians who love to hold them during this time but is it even safe to hold an election in just over a month if a second wave is a high probability? Trust a politician ... I doubt it.
Paul Beck, West Harbour

Illegality ineffective

Like most who are against legalisation P. J. Edmondson completely misses the point. We all know cannabis can cause harm, we all know it's better not to take drugs. The point is that the current illegality doesn't deter or protect, it simply costs a great deal in ineffective enforcement and enriches gangs. No one is proposing legalisation for teenagers. There is no evidence that non-users will become users after decriminalisation. But the tax obtained from legal sales could be directed toward drug education, whilst less affluent gangs would become less attractive to potential recruits.
Chris Elias, Mission Bay

Partisans rule

The letters all become so interesting around election time. Political partisans rule. Reg Dempster believes the calm and inclusive leadership style of Jacinda Ardern will influence the way we act in general life while not so subtly inferring Judith Collins risks looking like a bully for the mortal sin of making any criticism of the sacrosanct Prime Minister. Peter Kelly, on the other hand, takes a genuine joke line and out-of-context remarks to not at all subtly use the name of Donald Trump in his sabotage of Collins. So apparently the "nice and kind" approach of leadership has not yet filtered through to the Labour rank and file. Those who claim in print to know Collins' "personality" in depth might take the challenge and read her book. There's a lot to learn in there.
June Kearney, West Harbour

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Test wastewater

I see 1065 Covid tests have been done in Queenstown, to make sure the disease is not present in the community. They were all negative. Then I suppose, extrapolate to the remaining 27,100 people in Queenstown and pronounce them negative as well. Similar testing was done in South Auckland. Actually - and no doubt the Ministry of Health knows this - such testing gives no confidence that the virus is not present in the community. In Queenstown's case, by the time the results come back, we can conclude that it is just as likely that there are more than 20 people there with the virus as less than 20, with normal confidence we can say that there are less than 85 people with the virus and with near certainty that there are less than 190 people there with the virus. That is hopeless when you are wanting to establish that nobody there has the virus. There is another method that has been demonstrated in New Zealand and elsewhere that effectively tests 90 per cent of the population every day. That is testing the wastewater. Why doesn't the Ministry of Health want to do that?
Bill Macky, Bayswater

Sad for US voters

On September 19 New Zealand goes to the polls to choose a new Government and a new Prime Minister. Voters will choose between two intelligent and very articulate women. Jacinda Ardern, 40, or Judith Collins, 61. One already is a highly acclaimed leader and the other potentially could be too. How lucky we are in Aotearoa New Zealand. Compare this with voters' options when on November 3 the United States have their presidential elections. It's either Donald Trump, 74, or Joe Biden, 77. Both inarticulate and seemingly stupid. I must say I feel terribly sad for the voters in the US when their only choice is either Tweedledum or Tweedledee. If these two men are the best candidates in the world's largest economy, a country of 331 million, then God help us all.
Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay

Second wave

I'm concerned about the lack of transparency from the Director of Health regarding his statements regarding a second wave of Covid-19 apparently going to hit Aotearoa. My first question is, if we're gone 100 days without community transmission, where's the threat coming from? My second question is, if it's coming in from overseas why can't we stop it at the borders as we currently do? Are we missing something and not testing these overseas people properly? My wife is immuno-comprised so it's a major concern for us for him to state we need to buy masks for this second wave when we have no idea where it's coming from. Masks are now difficult to get hold of as he's panicked the public. We're seriously considering going back into voluntary lockdown due to the uncertainty of what's happening. For clarity for all New Zealanders can the Director of Health please enlighten us on what prompted him to make these statements and where exactly is the new wave coming from.
Robert Wark, St Marys Bay

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SHORT & SWEET
On re-opening
One thing I would like to see addressed by every party looking for votes in the election. What is your policy to cover the re-opening of our borders if there is no acceptable vaccine available in six months? What about if it is still not available in 12 months?
Mike Wells, Kawerau

On Brownlee
It's astonishing that Gerry Brownlee can't add. It's not that hard really. I hope there are no other MPs in the National Party with the same problem.
David Nicholson, Karori

On masks
Is the warning issued by the Government for us to start buying face masks meaning that the Government is about to open our borders and invite Covid back to our country? I think this is a decision to be made by all of us, not just the few in this Government. Honesty would be the best policy, I think.
Aidan Crabtree, Titirangi

On Greens
Isn't it incredible how the minor parties like the Greens can make outlandish statements that they will get a house for everyone, knowing full well they will never be in a position to have to deliver on their promise.
Jock MacVicar, Hauraki

On trust
Reg Dempster is waving his placard for "dear Jacinda" with red-coloured spectacles on.
Thankfully, we who don't have them can see a quality leader in Judith - highly qualified, highly intelligent, someone with a tonne of experience who doesn't have to resort to hugs and sweet nothings to get the country back on track.
I know who I'd trust any day ...
Christine Wroblenski, Pakuranga

On Peter Lyons
Peter Lyons I thank you. With courage and wit you explained that many economic policies can harm society. I have viewed beautiful sunsets this week and thought of you with your partial sight still making an impact on pupils and readers of the Herald. Your writings and teachings gave us understanding and hope.
Elisabeth Jobbins, Ōtāhuhu

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