Welcome to the November newsletter for The Policy Observatory. We highlight an upcoming report launch on diversity policy, a new report on local government reform, Briefing Papers to mark Armistice Day, and news items on climate change.

Edwina Pio and Mervin Singham’s report launch

On 29th November 2018, the Minister for Ethnic Communities, Hon Jenny Salesa, will visit AUT to launch The Policy Observatory’s new report, Inclusive Workspaces: Diversity and Public Policy, by Professor Edwina Pio, AUT’s University Director of Diversity, and Mervin Singham, currently the Executive Director of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care.

This co-authored report discusses the role of public policy in shaping diversity and inclusion in the workforce of Aotearoa New Zealand, and especially the leading role that the state sector can take.

The event will open with drinks and snacks at 4:30pm on 29th November 2018 in WZ100C, 6 St Paul Street, AUT City Campus. Speeches from Minister Salesa, Prof Edwina Pio and Mervin Singham will begin at 5pm, followed by a Q&A.

Registration is preferred through the Eventbrite, but tickets are not required. The event can also be shared through Facebook. A map showing the location of the new building (WZ) is here.

Local government reform

Local government elections will be held in October 2019. If trends of previous years hold, turnout will be low. What can be done to encourage more engagement with local body democracy? In a new report for The Policy Observatory, Jean Drage writes about how ‘having a say’ in local government in New Zealand has declined in recent years: Councils have become more managerial and corporate, decision-making less democratic, and the number of elected representatives per capita has declined. Jean writes about the growing disconnect between councils and their communities and identifies areas in need of change. Her report follows on from Mike Reid’s February report, Saving local democracy: An agenda for the new government.

Jean’s report is here: https://thepolicyobservatory.aut.ac.nz/publications/strengthening-local-voices

And Mike’s report is here: https://thepolicyobservatory.aut.ac.nz/publications/saving-local-democracy-an-agenda-for-the-new-government

Briefing papers

November 11th is Armistice Day, and 2018 is the centenary of the end of World War 1. To mark this event, the Briefing Papers are featuring new papers on the wars New Zealand doesn’t talk about enough, particularly in Pākehā circles: the New Zealand Wars. The first two papers have been published, with others next week.

The New Zealand Wars and the School Curriculum. By Joanna Kidman and Vincent O’Malley

Joanna Kidman and Vincent O’Malley write of recent efforts to make the New Zealand Wars a compulsory element in the school history curriculum. At present this is optional and often not taught, as teachers may shy away from controversial or contentious topics, because some teachers think it is a boring topic, or they lack confidence or resources. Others still believe that skills, not content, are the most important element in schooling. Kidman and O’Malley argue that content does matter: that a basic knowledge of the history of one’s own country is essential if young people are to engage in and understand their own communities. (Syndicated on e-Tangata.)


Te Pūtake o Te Riri. By Arini Loader

Arini Loader addresses the imbalance in knowledge, burden and work between Māori and Pākehā when it comes to the remembering the New Zealand Wars. In a powerful and personal piece of writing, Loader writes of the vivid way the wars are remembered by Māori, in contrast to Pākehā apathy and ignorance.


War remembrance: Acting out or working through? By Nicholas Haig.

Published back in April, this paper by museum expert Nicholas Haig is again timely. He discusses war remembrance exhibitions, asking what the remembrance is for. Commemoration, particularly that designed to stir up emotions, may not set the scene for a mature understanding of events, but instead leave people vulnerable to simplistic and jingoistic nationalism.


If you would like Briefing Papers direct to your email inbox, you can subscribe on a desktop computer. Go to the website http://briefingpapers.co.nz/ and click on the orange envelope icon at the top right side of the screen, and fill in your details.

Ivan Snook

Ian Shirley pays tribute to the late educationalist Professor Ivan Snook, champion of public education.


In the news

The release of the IPCC’s Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C is a stark reminder of the urgency for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for unavoidable climate change.

In the days after the Special Report’s release, the Policy Observatory’s Dr David Hall wrote three articles. The first is an op-ed for the New Zealand Herald highlights the need for humility in the face of humanity’s cumulative impact on earth systems. The second is a long-read for The Spinoff which argues that we need to understand both psychology and history to grasp the obstacles to climate-aligned action, as well as the opportunities. The third is an op-ed for Stuff which argues that we should think of national growth in terms of learning and maturity, especially in regards to social and environmental consequences of our actions.

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