Release of list of Earthquake prone buildings in the Hutt

Peter Dunne of United Future released today a list of Earthquake prone buildings in Lower Hutt and Petone. Upper Hutt City council as of yet has not released its list.

No doubt all of this relevant given the recent quakes.

Follow the full story here with links to articles and peoples comments ex Twitter.

We do appreciate your comments as this issue is important certainly for the future of Petone and the issue around Jackson Streets character buildings.

Hutt Valley: Car Chase last night ends in arrests

Well there was a lot of drama last night as noted from Twitter over Police cars moving at high speed.

It started with a police chase through the streets of Wellington and ended in the Hutt Valley with five arrests.

The chase began late last night in central Wellington, when an officer on foot patrol tried to get the driver to pull over on Tory Street, but the driver ignored him, and sped off down Aotea Quay. A police patrol gave chase, but had to abandon the pursuit because of the number of pedestrians leaving the AC/DC concert outside Westpac Stadium.

The offender drove onto the motorway, and sped towards the Hutt Valley, where he exited at the Petone off-ramp. Police say officers rejoined the pursuit at this point, and continued through the streets of Petone and Lower Hutt.

It eventually ended in Manor Park where the five male occupants of the vehicle were arrested. The driver is likely to face charges of dangerous driving, failing to stop and excess breath alcohol.

Hutt Valley: College Review canned

Well thank God commonsense prevailed.

The Government has rejected a council plea for a radical shake-up of Lower Hutt secondary schools.

The council, appalled by poor NCEA results, officially requested a review so sweeping changes could be considered, including the creation of single-sex and junior and senior schools.

But in a letter to mayor David Ogden, obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, Education Minister Anne Tolley said she would be reluctant to proceed without the schools’ support. “As you will appreciate, dialogue with schools is an essential part of any process,” she wrote

via Stuff

Credit to the Dominion for following up on this. My previous post about this issue last month roundly criticised the local council in how they have approached this issue. Equally how I felt that councillor Max Shierlaw was wrong in his summation of the issue and how little consideration was given to the colleges involved in presenting their case.

Mr Shierlaw took exception and responded to my post

Under the Local Government Act, Councils are charged with monitoring and evaluating the performance of Central Government in their communities. One of the community outcomes contained in our Annual Plan is the number of secondary students that leave school with a qualification.

State schools exist to serve the community and it is the community who should decide what structure is most suitable. This is where the Council has a role to play.

There is a level of dissatisfaction in the community about state secondary education options. The Council has very effective consultation systems and these could be utilised within a working group, under a Ministry of Education appointed facilitator, to gauge what alternative structures are favoured in the community.

Yes the Hutt Valley is segregated by social-economic boundaries, but we should never accept this as an excuse for poor academic results.

I didn’t respond at the time, no point in a flame war, but felt strongly that the community Mr Shierlaw talks about in his response equally involves those that teach our children. To go behind the backs of those involved in this process undervalues any review.

Colleges by their nature are large community groups and I would not hesitate to say that teachers and administration staff have probably a far greater connection to our communities than elected representatives. Whilst the issue of education standards does need addressing, to do so without consulting those in the trenches is the same as in any military blunder, generally resulting in consequences for those politicians involved that started the action.

No doubt in this case the council will be hoping the matter doesn’t irk to many of the populace and the way they handled it at their first approach . But no doubt the mayor sees it differently

Mr Ogden said he was not giving up and hoped he would be able to get the schools to change their mind and agree to a review. “I was surprised with the minister’s response, but I don’t think this issue will simmer down and just go away.

“I hope the schools will want to talk to us and listen to what we have to say.”

via Stuff

From my stand point I will be remembering and reminding many of the approach adopted by our council over this matter, involving No, high and might Yes.

Trust is an important attribute in any relationship, the Hutt Council forgot that.

Hutt Valley: College academic standards under scrutiny again

It would seem that the debate that councillor Max Shierlaw started in early July that academic standards improve at single-sex schools has had some legs albeit surrepitiously behind the backs of those directly involved. The debate had seemed to lose some steam but the council has taken the bat by the horn (mixed metaphors, Hutt educated you see) and directly approached government to do a review without consulting the schools involved.

Councillor Shierlaw went on record earlier that academic performance at single-sex schools was superior to mixed sex schools after reviewing NCEA results released in June

Tomorrows Schools was supposed to give parents a choice as to what sort of school their children went to but Cr Shierlaw says that choice doesn’t exist north of Boulcott, Lower Hutt.

“You are getting a choice between a school with a 30 percent (NCEA) pass rate and a school with a 40 percent pass rate. Something has to change that.”

The “sensible” option is to close Taita and Naenae Colleges and re-open them as single sex schools. Another option that he wants explored is the possibility of re-opening Petone Tech. A review should also take a look at St Oran’s College and why it is accepting students from Whitby, when some Hutt children can’t get in.

via Dominion Post July 7

I struggle with the role that a council plays in all of this as surely the mandate belongs to the Education Department. Equally at the time Councillor Shierlaw was questioned that the issue around gender was not the most significant issue more important was the soco-economic background of the pupils. At the time several principals expressed great concern that the issue was not being discussed with them. The principal of Naenae college Mr Russell took a lead role and expressed his feelings in the same Dominion article

He doubts Cr Shierlaw has any understanding of the problems the two northern colleges face.

”In terms of the issues facing Taita and Naenae, the least significant is gender.”

Many of the pupils coming to the school have ”poor learning skills” and are operating at a level well below the National Curriculium Level for Year Nine students.

Both colleges are working with their contributing schools to try and improve the performance of students entering Year 9. Naenae’s Year 9 roll is going up and he says there is evidence that community confidence in Naenae is rising.

Mr Russell says that the population of the Hutt Valley is changing and that could be used to justify a review. But he warns Cr Shierlaw that reviews do not always lead to the result the community wants. The government has the final say and the provision of education is highly political.

He goes further to say recently:

But principals are furious, saying the council has “lobbed a hand grenade over the back fence” by initiating action without asking for their opinion.

“It’s a blind, uninformed swipe and it’s a pretty sad thing for the council to do,” Naenae College principal John Russell said.

“This move illustrates that the council is totally out of touch with the community.”

via Dominion Post

Rightly so, several of the Principals of the involved schools feel miffed, I would to as surely the right for evaluation lies within the domain of their governing body, the Education Board, who by all accounts have several standards on which they judge a schools performance, not purely academic.

This July video from TVNZ programme Closeup illustrates the debate and the out of touch attitude that seems to have started this debate by Max Shierlaw.

With all due respect Mr Shierlaw  I appreciate your diligence at council spending and development, but feel you have overstepped your role, as has the council and me has a sneaky feeling that this issue was given legs by the council, so your fire is directed here, rather than at other council matters.

Pity the poor colleges now who will go through a ringer. A previous education review in Tararua District once released was throw out by an upset local community by the changes ask to be impementated, I see the same result occuring here, the Hutt Valley is segregated by social-economic boundaries, live with it.

Hutt Valley: Artists & Creatives harness the power of the Web

Hear Astrid Nielsch ( talk about her experiences with her own website, and as a member of a number of online art, music and fan communities. Astrid explains how the internet can help you, whatever your artform. Get advice on what to look for in a website, and ideas on how to plan your own online publicity campaign.

Astrid recently set up her own web design business, Asni: Multimedia Art & Design. She draws on her experience in online arts promotion to build sites that harness the power of the internet while remaining affordable on an artist’s budget.

Her own website was originally built in 2002 with the aim to promote her career as a professional musician, specializing in medieval and baroque music performed on the harp. Within two years, the site was attracting substantial numbers of visitors, and generating a small but regular, and steadily increasing, income from online shop sales and licensing fees. For the last year, her web statistics have averaged 600 visitors a day.

As well as promoting her music, the site features her photography and artwork. This has resulted in several of her images being published internationally.

Asni also speaks as an active participant in online forums and in web communities. It was through one of those online friendships that she got the opportunity to come to New Zealand for a tour in 2003, and decided to settle here when she was offered a teaching position at Victoria University.

In 2007, Asni got stuck with a completed master tape for her “Travels in Middle-earth” CD production, and no money to print and publish the CDs. She used her website, email newsletter and promotion in online communities, and succeeded in raising the funds to publish the CD from pre-orders collected over a period of six months.

The same year, she realized that the internet had moved on from the days when one could create a successful website in a text editor. She decided to put her self-taught skills on a more solid foundation, and completed the Diploma of Multimedia at Natcoll in Wellington in 2008.

Parking is available in the Peel Street Carpark off Britannia Street, and the Arts Hub is wheelchair accessible.


Arts Hub Forum Series 20 October: Harnessing the Power of the Web – Online promotion for artists

Where: Petone Community Library meeting room Britannia Street Petone

When: Tuesday 20th October 11am till 1pm

How Much: Free!

Contact: Hutt Valley Community Arts Email: Phone: 568-3488

Hutt Valley Rail: TranzMetro service to be contestable

I read with interest today that Mr Steven Joyce, Transport Minister is to make the MetroRail services in New Zealand contestable. In essence, the government will own the new rolling stock that will hit the Hutt Valley next year, (and Auckland) and will lease these to the service provider. Currently KiwiRail is the service provider.

Steven Joyce:

“The model builds significantly on the best of what we already have in place, and will ensure the operation of commuter rail services is contestable, so that we get the best possible service for commuters at the best possible price”.

KiwiRail will be able to bid to operate the services alongside other train operators, but all bidders will face the same price to lease the trains, and to access the track.

Steven Joyce:

“This move will ensure that while KiwiRail owns the trains, it is not necessarily the case that they operate the services. They will have the opportunity to bid, but it is the regional transport authorities alongside NZTA who will determine the successful operators,”

This is a laudable business model given the current structure that the tranzmetro services do not pay their own way and in effect were the reason that KiwiRail ended back in Government hands.

Mr Joyce:

“That is appropriate as it is the regional organisations and NZTA that provides the public transport subsidies that make the services viable.”

Further to that Mr Joyce also advocated further enhancements on current practice by implementing contracts that reward or penalise service standards:

“Performance-based contracts ensure the train operator is rewarded for providing reliable services and penalised when they don’t. We will ensure that operators have sufficient control over their operations to ensure they can be held accountable for performance.”

via NZRail

I hope, along with the many Hutt commuters that the standard of service improves to the point where it can be called a service, and not a joke. No doubt the last decade has seen when this service was placed in private hands that it was raped of value, with no attention or money spent on infrastructure maintanence or development.

The result, that the government repurchased the business established KiwiRail and has started on this long process of redevelopment, in the hope at the end to pass it on to private hands again. 

The circle of business continues, but at least at this point the government is putting in place caveats on performance.

One would have to wonder who would step into the fray to be a regional rail service provider. Currently Aucklands service is run privately by Veolia (following masive reinvestment in regional rail by the government) and also the bus service in Wellington by a Scottish private company (I think).

The question on every Hutt rail commuters mind is first, get the service to the level that you can call it a service that people willing pay for. It has to be a viable, reliable, cost effective alternativeto other transport.

The second outcome if successful in the first, is how much will this new and improved service cost once placed in the hands of a private contractor. The balance generally of all of this business structuring and performance contracts is nearly always in the end the user, the commuter.

Are they the one going to foot the bill through increased prices to make this service profitable again?