Studylink, where’s my allowance?

Students have had a hard time over summer. I arrived in Hamilton to look for somewhere to live in November of 2012, and while I’d sussed out some empty flats to look at via Trade-Me, nothing prepared me for the state of the place when I got here – whole suburbs were ghost towns of empty student flats, and all I saw on campus when inquiring about post-grad papers were International students doing bridging courses over summer.



Eventually it sank into my stressed-out brain that there were no students here ‘cos they’d all gone home to parents, some of them for jobs but mostly for the free room and board.



Then Studylink announces its new parameters, and suddenly a bunch of previously capable and successful students (postgraduates) were persona-non-grata for study support, and indeed, enrollment in a New Zealand University. This is probably the greatest shift in student allowance availability since the Student Loans Act was passed in 1992. 
Cue tickets to Australia, and a windfall for Monash and its ilk. 
Knowledge Economy, it isn’t.



What are the current batch of undergrad’s supposed to make of this? 
How confident are you, handing in assignments, going to tutorials, aiming for the ‘A’ grade, when suddenly those who were your tutors last year have been told ‘don’t come back’, unless they have no need for student allowances or student loans to cover study costs.



Someone needs to tell the Minister of Education, the Hon Hekia Parata, that this is an unreasonable way to treat those of our student community who have actual proven track record as successful students – after all, post-grad is not a forgone conclusion, it’s something some of us agonise over for a year after completing Hons; and some even go out into the workforce for a few years before returning with enough experience of life to really value our university opportunities. E-mail her here hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz



What-the-Hekia, this is the longest Recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this is actually the very economic situation that our social welfare ‘safety net’ was designed for – when global conditions go sour, NZ has very little resiliency, due to our over-exposure to export earnings. 



There were no jobs going for the one in four maaori or pasifika students without jobs this summer; and the jobless rate wasn’t much brighter for our ‘cream of the crop’ high achievers, either. 


The net unemployment rate for 15-19-year-olds in the year to December was 30.9% [that’s just under 1 in 3 of the cohort ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET)] and for the 20-25-year-old bracket, it’s 18.5% [over 1 in 6 NEET]. 
These are people who can’t get a student loan, entry to a course nearby, or a job. 
They’re the people who aren’t here on campus with you this year, out of the kids you might have known at secondary school.

I tried to get figures from SJS and Winz on student hardship unemployment uptake over summer, but had no replies.
This was going to be an article for Nexus, the student paper at Uni of Waikato, but they seem to have lost possession of their testicles and couldn’t find it in their teeny shrivelled hearts to criticise Hekia Parata, a former WSU President, so here it is on g.blog.

Orientation week – clubs day is O-for-oarsome

So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)

I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.

They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!

So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.

Cath with the domebuilders

Cath with the domebuilders

From the inside

From the inside

The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.

Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.

It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

stall_people

We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato

Uni_PR_stall_team

Speech by Hamilton West Green candidate to Campaign for Better Transport in Hamilton

What follows is my speech as the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand candidate for Hamilton West, delivered at the first public ‘Meet the Candidates’ meeting held in Hamilton NZ by the Campaign for Better Transport.

“Kia Ora, good evening Hamilton.

My name is Max Coyle and I am standing for the Green Party in Hamilton West.

Cars have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities. Over three successive years an entire branch of my family was wiped out by car accidents leaving 5 people dead and 2 of my cousins orphaned. The car culture which see’s a car as an aspiration and symbol of wealth in our country today is unhealthy, and also unsustainable. Cars kill and they are inefficient. With the rising cost of fuel and the environmentally destructive methods needed to obtain the black gold, this culture has to end, but that’s not really what I’m here to talk to you about, I’m here to talk about a healthier and more cost-effective and economically beneficial solution, excellent public transport.

Public Transport is about community and you always meet amazing people on trips. On the other hand, motorways are barriers that all too often cut through the heart of communities. Where public transport brings people together, motorways keep people apart.

When my son is older I would like to take him to the beach, or to one of our rivers (once the Greens have made sure they are all cleaned up) and on our trips there I would like to spend time with him, entertain each other and make sure that every moment together counts, I want to be able to look my son in the eye, because the day he was born I realized that those eyes are where I find the most powerful unconditional love in myself I never knew existed. Instead I have to watch the road for fear of killing us all. One of the great things about public transport is that I can actively engage with those I am traveling with, you can not do that in a car traveling at 100km’s an hour.

I often have to travel to Auckland or Wellington and currently that time is wasted. It will be great when I can get my laptop out and connect to the net and get some work done on my journeys. It would not only make me more productive, just imagine how much more productive our whole country could become. Has anyone been to a city overseas where the public transport was effortless? How amazing does it make your trip? I’m sure tourists visiting our 74% pure country would be stoked to have the same experience here.

With amazing public transport which is both cost-effective and comfortable, efficient and timely, well planned and well run, we CAN change the car culture we live in. Being stuck in traffic could become a thing of the past. Every day around Hamilton West I see people driving cars with no passengers. It doesn’t make sense to be lugging a couple of tonnes of metal around by yourself on most trips and it will make even less sense when petrol is $5 a litre.

We must plan for a city of the future Hamilton. We must grasp our opportunity to be an accessible and economically successful city, now and into the future. Which is why I am standing for the political party of the future in the city of the future. My name is Max Coyle and I’m standing as the Green Party candidate for Hamilton West and on November 26th I invite you, to PARTY VOTE GREEN”

I visited the Waitangi Tribunal Library for the first time ever last week. Not to do some research on ‘Wai 262’ though I heard from the receptionist things had been busier there over the past 2 days. My visit was to see something on one of the walls, not in one of the documents, or books on one of the many shelves, well taken care of by a wonderful team of dedicated people.

One of those people was my Uncle, which brings me back to my visit. When I was quite young over the space of 3 years a complete branch of my family was wiped out. 2 Uncles, 2 aunties and 1 baby cousin. The first accident was a drunk driver crossing the centreline and crashing into my Uncle’s car. The other car following my Uncle plowed into the back of his car, causing my Uncles Ford Capri to be crushed betwee the two, I can’t remember whether he died instantly or minutes later. Hamilton West Green Party candidate Max Coyle and his Uncle the late Brett Sinclair

Exactly a year after that, 3 days before my Uncles unveiling, his mother, my Great Aunty Rangi died. The clinical diagnosis was a heart attack, though the rest of the family talked about her dying of grief, even at 14 I was quickly learning how powerful grief was. I believed my relatives, that it was the last year since the death of her beloved son, Brett Sinclair, that had taken too deep a toll. Having seen Rangi 4 months previously for what would be the last time, I remember seeing the shadow of a woman, standing where a once vibrant, warm and welcoming aunty once greeted us with baking and soup and a hug whose absence leaves me cold even today.

Fast forward a year and the family is having another reunion, this time on a happier note and we are preparing for an Uncles wedding. Our grandmothers large house in Gore is full of relatives from all over NZ and all the young cousins/brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews are playing upstairs.

A knock at the door see’s a policeman at the door, cap in hand. he has come as death’s messenger and informs us that My Auntie Lee, Bretts Sister, her husband and their 1 year old son have been killed in a car accident en-route to the wedding after my Uncle fell asleep at the wheel. There two older boys, my cousins, survived the crash, and were never the same again.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time during my speech to tell this story, I wish that I had. National both during the public meeting and through their policies are saying that the numbers just don’t stack up on funding public transport. David Bennett the chairperson on the Transport Working group refused to accept the 11’500 signatures from Waikato people calling for a passenger train to Hamilton. My number is 5, 5 dead, and I wish that number counted for something.