Thursday, March 31, 2005

Help Wanted

About Town is advertising for a new contributor, after Conor (of Constar fame) has found that he has too much on his plate with the AUSA Vice Presidentancy and Labour Party activities (which, after this weekend, will probably be greatly expanded). I assume the pre-requisite would be a member (or former member) of the AUSA Exec, and a member of the Labour Party?

Quite a few bloggers have recently blogged-out. SageNZ posted in February that several blogs had fallen in the month. Since then, Nick Kelly has posted that he is a failed blogger, and will not be posting any more. Several other blogs haven't posted in over a month, including Constar, and Jules - two long standing bloggers.

Where is everyone going?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Modern Graduation Attire

Thanks to Dorking Labs for this one.

Media Release - VUWSA Praises Efforts of VUW Cricket Team

Victoria University students can be proud of the efforts of the VUW men’s cricket team, which won the NZ Universities Championship on Monday, said Jeremy Greenbrook, President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. Victoria won all 3 of their matches including a win in the final over a very strong Otago team.

“University life is more than just study” says Greenbrook. “The VUW Cricket team has shown this, with a last-ball victory over Otago in the final.”

“An innings of 117 not out in the final by team captain, Stephen Murdoch, is outstanding, and was rewarded with the National Bank Player of the Championship” said Greenbrook.

Five members of the Victoria team (including Murdoch) were named in the Tournament Team.

Match card:
Otago vs Victoria, Mon 28 March, Kelburn Park, Wellington,
Toss won by Victoria;
Otago 243 all out, 49.1 overs, J. Hogg 86, C. Smith 60, S. Murdoch 3-24, N. Earl 3-51;
Victoria 244-9, 50 overs, S. Murdoch 117*, H. Templeton 24, S. Murley 3-45;

For further details, contact:
Jeremy Greenbrook
President - Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
021 899 430 – 04 463 6986

Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy Easter Everyone

Thursday, March 24, 2005

State of the Parties - National

The Dominion Post has published a profile of the National Party, focusing on their state under MMP. I agree with DPF - this is a very balanced account of the Party.

The concept of a "natural party of government" is something that interests me. I wrote a paper on Labour's state under MMP for Jon Johannson's 300-level Politics paper in 2003, a passage of which was reprodused in the Young Labour Newsletter. Things have changed since 2003...

NZLP and the Changing Party System

Often termed the 'natural party of opposition' the New Zealand Labour Party has a somewhat mixed record both in government and in opposition since losing the 1975 election. Originally established as the political wing of the West Coast trade unions, Labour has gone through a period of Neo-Liberalism, broken with its traditional union affiliates, and spawned breakaway parties as diverse as the Alliance and ACT. In the meantime, the change of the electoral system from First Past the Post (FPP) to a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system has severely altered New Zealand's political landscape, effecting significant changes on the New Zealand Labour Party.

Commentators such as Jonathon Boston claimed that New Zealand's move to a proportional representation system would be to the detriment of Labour and National, as a first-past-the-post election paves the way for a two party system. Indeed, between 1945 and 1996 all but 9 seats were won by either of the major parties. While Social Credit, and Bob Jones' New Zealand Party challenged this two party dominance, they did so with only limited electoral success. MMP has seen the formation of numerous smaller 'third' parties. Political Scientist Raymond Miller refers to this as the 'flaking process', where by, a number of current MP's, concerned with their position under MMP, left their parties to form, or join existing smaller parties. This is certainly the situation relating to the formation of most of the parties in the current Parliament, namely New Zealand First, United (now United Future), and Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition Party.

A survey of Labour's election hoardings in the 1999 and 2002 elections show how Labour has adapted to the MMP electoral system. In 1999 Labour issued two differing types of hoarding: a generic Labour party hoarding featuring Helen Clark, and, in anticipation of victory, stating "THE FUTURE IS WITH LABOUR"; and a second electorate-specific hoarding, promoting the local electorate candidate, either with or without a photograph of the candidate, and, to a lesser extent, promoting the Labour party. Neither made any specific reference to the party vote, until an attachment was nailed to the hoardings late in the campaign, when the party realised that many voters were going to split their vote.

In contrast, generic National hoardings featured a photograph of leader Jenny Shipley, and were specifically aimed at the party votes, clearly asking voters to give National their party vote, while in key electorates, such as Wellington Central, the Alliance asked voters to split their vote with Labour's candidate, Marian Hobbs (to unseat ACT MP Richard Prebble), a precursor to the imminent Labour - Alliance. In his post election analysis of the 1999 campaign, Labour's campaign manager Mike Williams stated that many centre-left voters tend to ignore mainstream media, tending not to watch televised news, listen to news radio, or read any of the major daily newspapers that "they have to pay for". This effectively made the local candidate the centre of the party vote campaign, hence the late realisation of the importance of the Party vote in Labour's 1999 campaign.

By 2002, Labour had changed its tact somewhat, and, as a general strategy specifically campaigned for the party vote ahead of the electorate vote. Once again, two differing hoardings were issued, however, unlike in 1999, both made reference to the party vote over the electorate vote. The generic Labour hoarding stated clearly: "Party Vote Labour [Tick]", with a photo of Helen Clark, while the electorate hoardings simply said "[Tick] Labour", and below in smaller writing the same with the candidates family name. Late into the campaign, Labour employed a similar tactic as 1999, this time however, emphasising Labour's stability in government with "VOTE: Stable Government" plastered across hoardings.

Labour's Rakaia candidate in 2002, Tony Milne, points out that campaigning in Canterbury had a two-way regional approach to it. Rakaia activists contributed to the region's party vote (which included both safe Labour seats, such as Christchurch Central, and safe National seats, like Rakaia and Ilam), while activists from around Canterbury were recruited to campaign for party votes in un-winnable seats like Rakaia. A similar approach was taken in the Wellington region, with Wellington Central's abundant supply of young activists recruited to help raise the party vote in opposition held seats of Ohariu-Belmont and Rangitikei.

Looking into the performance of Labour candidates during the last 3 elections, one could come to the conclusion that Labour was relatively slow with the transition across to MMP. In the 1996 campaign, Labour experienced first hand the rough end of MMP, when Winston Peters and New Zealand First held the balance of power, and subsequently formed an ill-fated government with National. During the election campaign, other parties (particularly National and ACT) showed that they had a better - although some would argue, badly executed - grasp of MMP than Labour did, exhibited with Jim Bolger's support for Richard Prebble in Wellington Central, at a time when ACT was hovering just below the 5% threshold, much to the publicly displayed annoyance of local National candidate, Mark Thomas. This effectively gave National a guaranteed coalition partner in ACT, at a time when New Zealand First looked unlikely to join with National.

Ten years after New Zealand voted for MMP, election results suggest that Labour has been the least adaptive to the change of the new electoral system. Labour is the only party represented in parliament that has never won a greater percentage of party votes than electorate votes, and this is reflected in the proportionately low number of list MPs Labour gets, in comparison with other parties. David Benson-Pope regards this as a trust issue: rather than give both votes to Labour, voters preferred to find "us a coalition partner". I personally will never forget being told by a middle aged women in Karori during the 2002 campaign, that she will "vote for Marian, but I'll never trust Labour after '84" (something to that effect). The painful reform period of the fourth Labour government still gives the party an unwelcome stigma, which it is finding very difficult to shake.

However, it would seem that Labour is in a much better position under MMP than National, due to the electoral system's lack of favouritism towards the traditional National-voting elites. Under first-past-the-post, unless you voted for the winning electorate candidate, your vote was effectively worth nothing. Also, the smaller rural seats (which were predominantly Labour held) were worth as much when it came to forming a government, as larger urban seats. However, under MMP, voters in rural electorates, with little real chance of having a Labour MP, do have an incentive to give at least one of their votes to Labour.

While parts of the electorate still hold a grudge against the Labour Party for the reformist period of the Fourth Labour Government, the election results of 1999 and 2002 indicate that the Labour Party is no longer the natural government of opposition, instead, it is the 'long term party of government'. Under Helen Clark's leadership, and a more favourable electoral system, the New Zealand Party system is falling into a Norwegian model, with a dominant leftwing party (Labour), and a largely fragmented rightwing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Media Whore

I was qouted in the Dominion Post three times today (but who's counting, ah?).

First was in regards to Pat Walsh speaking to the Student Representative Council today.

Second was a letter to the editor regarding advertising spending (where they spelt my last name "Greenbook").

Third was in regards to Pat Walsh's appointment as Vice Chancellor (although they didn't credit me with the qoute).

The Fog has Cleared

For the first time in over a week, I can see blue sky out my office window.

Social Conservitism at It's Best

Gary has posted that he will not vote for National if Don Brash peddles his youth crime policy. Not a bad post by Gaz's standards. I favourate passage has to be:
I do think something should be done about controlling the little shits of this world, but sometimes punishing the parents does not work, especially if the pinkos have their way and don’t let us whack them. If a kid does a serious crime he should be sent to health camp or a correction centre like they used to, not fine the parents.

He then goes on to say that we should have them working in sweat shops, because "that'll learn 'em". Nice one Gaz - I'm glad someone in our generation wants to take New Zealand back to the 1950's...

Gaz fails to actually point out the flaws of Brash's plan. If the parents are present (and, therefore presumably available to be "punished"), then they are taking some responsibility for their children's actions. If the parents are not present (for whatever reason), it is going to be rather difficult to punishment them, even though it is probably more their fault than in the previous case. You are, therefore, punishing parents for taking responsibility.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Media Release - VUW Vice Chancellor to Address Students

An unprecedented gesture of good faith, is how Jeremy Greenbrook, President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) is describing Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh’s decision to address the Student Representative Council (SRC).

“Professor Walsh is clearly showing that he is interested in what students have to say” said Greenbrook. “This is a remarkable turn around, considering the SRC moved numerous motions of no confidence and burned in effigy his predecessor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon.”

Professor Pat Walsh will be addressing the Student Representative Council in the Victoria University Quad at 12:50 on Wednesday 23 March.

“For so long, students have been seen as an annoyance by university management. At last we have a Vice Chancellor who is willing to take us seriously”, said Greenbrook.

For further details, contact:
Jeremy Greenbrook
President - Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
021 899 430 – 04 463 6986

Monday, March 21, 2005

Gunning for My Job

Gareth Robinson has annouced that he will be running for VUWSA President next year.

I'm not entirely certain what has motivated this, but one cannot help but think that this is a rather ambitious goal, considering Gareth has run for General Exec in almost every election and by-election since the 2003 General Election (I believe the 2003 Welfare Vice President by-election, and 2004 Treasurer/General Exec - where he was returning officer - were the only exceptions), and has yet to get elected to anything other than Publications Committee (which he was unopposed).

I have yet to decide weather to seek a second term, but I would say it is highly unlikely.

Labour Releases List

Labour have just announced their list for the election. The (e) or (l) incicate weather they will have an electorate or list seat after the election, according to my earlier election prediction.

1 Rt. Hon Helen Clark (e)
2 Hon Michael Cullen (l)
3 Hon Margaret Wilson (l)
4 Hon Steve Maharey (e)
5 Hon Parekura Horomia (e)
6 Hon Phil Goff (e)
7 Hon Annette King (e)
8 Hon Trevor Mallard (e)
9 Hon Marian Hobbs (e)
10 Hon Dover Samuels (e)
11 Hon Jim Sutton (e)
12 Hon Pete Hodgson (e)
13 Hon Taito Phillip Field (e)
14 Hon Ruth Dyson (e)
15 Hon Mita Ririnui (l)
16 Hon Mark Burton (e)
17 Hon Paul Swain (e)
18 Hon Judith Tizard (e)
19 Hon Chris Carter (e)
20 Luamanuvao Winnie Laban (e)
21 Hon Rick Barker (e)
22 Mahara Okeroa (l)
23 Hon David Benson-Pope (e)
24 Jill Pettis (e)
25 Ashraf Choudhary (l)
26 Lianne Dalziel (e)
27 Shane Jones (l)
28 Dianne Yates (l)
29 Hon Mark Gosche (e)
30 Ann Hartley (e)
31 Hon David Cunliffe (e)
32 Martin Gallagher (e)
33 Steve Chadwick (e)
34 Darren Hughes (e)
35 Georgina Beyer (l)
36 Maryan Street (l)
37 David Parker (l)
38 Russell Fairbrother (e)
39 Dave Hereora (l)
40 Lynne Pillay (e)
41 Moana Mackey (e)
42 Steven Ching (l)
43 Sue Moroney (l)
44 Darien Fenton (l)
45 Charles Chauvel (l)
46 Lesley Soper (l)
47 Louisa Wall (l)
48 Su'a William Sio
49 Brendon Burns
50 Hamish McCracken
51 Denise MacKenzie
52 Max Purnell
53 Wayne Harpur
54 Leila Boyle
55 Dinesh Tailor
56 Philip Twyford
57 Jennifer McCutcheon
58 Chris Yoo
59 Michael Wood
60 Linda Hudson
61 Stuart Nash
62 Tony Milne
63 David Talbot
64 Marilyn Brown
65 Anjum Rahman
66 Eamon Daly
67 Grant Duffy
68 Judy Lawley
69 Mike Mora
70 Erin Ebborn-Gillespie
71 Ai Lian Su
72 Ghazala Anwar
73 Paul Gibson
74 Kelly-Ann Harvey
75 Camille Nakhid

In reserve
76 Nathan Saminathan
77 Ola Kamel
78 Andrea Bather

Calls for Salient Editor's Resignation

I have deleted this post due to unforeseen employment issues.

President's Column - Evolution, Creationism and Academic Integrity

Well, if you read Salient from cover-to-cover, you will have read Emily’s column on censorship. Here’s my column on academic integrity.

Earlier this week I was doing the dishes with my flat-mate Ray, who’s an ecology student. Ray’s a fairly switched on character, and our flat conversations are often over my head, leaving me with a semi-glazed look on my face. The dishes conversation that night turned to the evolution / creationism debate in American schools, and the flaws in each of the arguments. As the conversation progressed, and Ray explained each side of the argument to me, the more I realized how much academic integrity and freedom had been impinged upon.

In 1831 Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle for a five-year voyage around the world, as an unpaid naturalist and companion to the ship’s captain, Robert Fitzroy. During this voyage, Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 kilometres off the coast of South America. It was on these Islands that Darwin noticed there were slight variations in Finches on different islands, while there should have only been one specie, originating from South America. All in all, Darwin identified 13 different species of the bird, differing most markedly in their beak shape. Darwin concluded that the variance in beaks stemmed from the differences in the diet and eating patterns of the different Finches on the different Islands. All the Finches had come from the same origin (South America) and were the same specie, but had been separated for a significant period of time. Rather than the environment changing the characteristics of the Finches, Darwin concluded that only those with the specific characteristics were able to survive in the environment they had been faced with, and the rest simply died out - hence the “survival of the fittest”.

This all seems to me to be fairly plausible, from a scientific perspective. However, there is a significant school of thought which is governed by the biblical book of Gensis, which violently disagrees:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(Gensis 1:1-2)

This school of thought (known as “Creationism”) believes that God created the earth and all that is on it in a perfect form (including man that was made in an image of Himself). Since God’s creation is perfect there would be no reason to believe that it would need to evolve to improve it’s standing in it’s environment (as the Darwinist school of thought would lead us to believe). Creationism goes one step further, in linking “the truth about science” to god’s word, as revealed to us through scripture. Subsequently, the importance of studying the bible is paramount, as it cannot be divorced from true science.

OK, granted that’s a very simple and rough explanation, but there is significant debate in the United States as to weather each of these theories can be or should be taught in public schools. The Darwinists site numerous scientific flaws in the creationist argument (such as those raised by Darwin), while the Creationists site the fact that evolution has never been indisputably proved beyond a theory (similar to, say, the theory of gravity, for example).

Does this fly? I’m neither a biologist, nor a theologian, but this is not a peer-reviewed academic journal, so I can basically spout on about whatever the hell I want (within reason of course). I would say there is very little evidence outside of the bible to support the Creationist argument, although Creationists would argue that that would suffice. There is, however, significant research to show a natural evolution of different species. However, this does not mean that I think only evolution should be taught in schools.

If academics (or teachers or religious leaders) were to say that one theory is right, and all other theories should be destined to the dustbin of time, then students of whatever discipline are never going to be able to learn from other’s mistakes. In order for a theory such as evolution to be taught comprehensively, one most also understand the conflicting theories (this is not to say anything bad about any of the academic staff in the School of Biological Sciences) – this gives a more well rounded education, and makes students more apt at handling everyday life.

Of course there is one ultimate irony in all of this: Darwin was originally trained as a theologian.

Friday, March 18, 2005


There are so many emails flying around the VUWSA office that it sometimes becomes a little surreal (with all due credit to Kate from About Town).

Activities Officer, Brendan Jarvis got a little frustrated with all the mass emails he received and replied with this:

I've given up all hope that humans will be able to realise that capitalism is the obvious answer to all of the worlds problems and have resorted to extreme anarchism.
*gets gasoline and matches*
To which Nick Kelly replied with:
I had some bloody anarchist siphon [sic] petrol out of the starlet tank just over a year ago. Fucking was due at work at 6:30am and it was 6:15am when I went down to the car and saw it. Swear I've never been so pissed off in my life...
P.S They stol
[sic] the fucking cap too. To this day the replacement isn't as good as the old one :-(
Fun times in the VUWSA Office...

And I'm Not Even Irish...

Yesterday I woke up and put on the first shirt I layed my hands on. It happened to be green.

Firstly, The First Lady and I met up with some freinds at Syn Bar for beer and pizza. I ended up in a very involved conversation on the merits of funding tertiary education with a Labour list MP. Moana was confident about Labour's state in the Maori seats in the upcoming election.

Accompanied by Greg, we headed to JJ Murphey's on Cuba Mall. The place was packed, but we spotted a former Cabinet Minister having a quiet one, and had to have a chat to him. Interesting conversation, to say the very least...

Ended up drinking with Andrew Kirton in the mist (I think Wellington Airport is closed today - there is certainly very little to see out of my office window) on the deck at JJ's, above Cuba Mall.

My head hurts today...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

AUS Dispute At Auckland University

Xavier from About Town has written a great piece on University of Auckland (and former Victoria) Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon's refusal to participate in a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) - the piece is aptly named "Stuart McCutcheon is a Fucktard"

My analysis of Stuart McCutcheon and his time at Victoria is thus (please correct any inaccuracies):

McCutcheon came to Victoria when we were in dire financial circumstances. Previous Vice Chancellor Michael Irving had seriously fucked things up big time (including, but not limited to, my personal favourate: an expensive (and unsuccessful) advertising campaign involving Robert Rakete, a cactus suit, and the phrase "Victoria takes all comers"), and the university was not only loosing students, but loosing money. Irving was "asked" to leave, and was offered an undisclosed goldern handshake - rumours range from a six-figure payment, to a BBQ and a chilly-bin full of beer.

So out with Irving, and in with the Knight in Shining Armour - Massey University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon. The students stopped leaving, and the books balanced. However, McCutcheon took it a little further, building Victoria University into the corporate entity that it is. I am mixed on my feelings about this, but it did invlove expensive corporate marketing, staff salaries stagnating, and student fees going up (it also involved other factors which we are currently in legal action over).

I currently have a lot of respect for the new Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh, and we enjoy a civil and prefessional working relationship. Walsh's area of expertise is industrial relations, and he has a strong record of union membership (which, admitedly is much higher at Victoria than Auckland) so AUS would also have reason to be optomistic this year.

Interestingly Irving (who is now Professor of Biomedical Science at Bond University in Australia) is a bio-chemist, and McCutcheon a vetenerian, two subjects which are not especially strong at Victoria.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Wellington - The New Zealand Blog Capital?

Came across these two blogs - Miramar Mike (named after the mightly suberb in the east, and home of Peter Jackson) and wellingtonist. Both good blogs with a distinctly Wellington spin on them. Made me think - is Wellington the New Zealand Blog Capital?

I had a look at the links on my blog. 25 out of 35 are based in Wellington. The debatable kings of blogging (Jordan on the left and David on the right) are both Wellington based (in fact, they are campaign managers for Labour and National candidates in Wellington Central).

I can feel another bloggers drinks at the BackBencher coming on...

Only In America

Every night, on channel E! they have re-enactments of the Michael Jackson trial. This is an indication of the totally fucked up world we live in.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

John Banks to (maybe) run in Tamaki

Interesting development this weekend, with former National cabinet minsiter and former mayor of Auckland City stating that he would like to run for ACT in Rob Muldoon and Bob Tizard's old seat of Tamaki. This is an interesting development to my earlier election prediction.

Let's step back to 2002. Tamaki was the most maginal seat in the country, with Clem Simich winning with a slim 1,200 vote majority over Labour's Leila Boyle, while ACT MP, Ken Shirley came in a distant third with 4,577 votes. Labour won the party vote in Tamaki, and Shirley punched above his weight, taking more party votes than electorate votes.

If Banks were to stand, it would be highly unlikely he would win, and it would displace Ken Shirley (something that could cause divisions in the ACT caucus). I would predict that Hide would have a better chance in Epsom than Banks in Tamaki. It also looks unlikely that the National Party are going to do ACT any favours after the recent speight of outbursts from both sides.

I beleive ACT would be foolish to bow down to the wants and needs of John Banks. The guy is a loose cannon, and hardly the liberal ACT are trying to brand themselves. It simply wouldn't be worth it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

President's Column - Bluffers Guide to the Te Wananga o Aotearoa Scandal

Unfortunatly, it was not as good as I hoped, due mainly to the time I had to complete it in the end. However, here it is.


Unless you have had your head in the sand (or prefer to watch Neighbours and Friends), you will have noticed a considerable amount of coverage in the media over the past few months the Te Wananga o Aotearoa ‘scandal’. At the beginning of the week I was asked my opinion on this, and I realized that I know very little about it. So you don’t get caught in the same dilemma, here is the “Bluffer’s Guide to Te Wananga o Aotearoa Scandal”.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa was set up in 1983 in a “corrugated-iron shed on a former rubbish dump in Te Awamutu”, offering courses in Te Reo and trade. It grew slowly to 1000 students on 5 sites in 1999, and then took off, with some 64,000 enrollments (or 34,000 effective-full-time-students) in 2004, 13 campuses, and 1200 staff. CEO Rongo Wetere credits the growth to a “move to provide free courses and mixed modes of delivery,… a direct response to student preference and demand”, although offering an education beyond high school to a group that this was previously perceived to be out of reach undoubtedly had something to do with it also.

This little-known institution (despite being the largest tertiary institution in New Zealand) initially hit the headlines earlier this year when it was accused by the New Zealand Vice Chancellor’s Committee of miss-using the term “university” – it’s name directly translates as “The University of New Zealand”. While this has been resolved (to a certain extent), the Wananga came under further fire when ACT MP, Ken Shirley, drip-fed allegations of worthless government-funded courses, extravagant use of tax payer money, and non-tendered contracts going to family members of the management.

Unfortunately, the water has been muddied a little of late with personality politics getting in the way, including linking Wetere with the National Party (of which, it has been revealed, he is a member), and as a personal friend of National leader Don Brash (which turned out to be untrue), Maori Party leader Tariana Turia justifying it by claiming that “its not unusual for [Maori} to employ our own people” as Whanaungatanga or “kinship”, and general accusations of Maori-bashing and special treatment for Maori from respective sides of the house.

So what is at the crux of this issue? What are the main points of conflict?

Firstly, there’s the abuse of the per-EFTS funding model. This is where by an institution is funded according to the number of full-time students it enrolls. Subsequently, it would be in the institution’s best financial interests to enroll as many students as possible, through whatever means possible (god bless Capitalism). Once again, this is why 200-level law students have to sit in the aisle, and the School of Information Management are giving out yoyo’s. This pales in comparison to Te Wananga’s allegations. Students are alleged to have been offered laptops, cell phones, and even international flights as an incentive to enroll, clearly abusing the per-ETFS funding system.

Secondly, there’s allegations that a number of Wananga contracts were not put out to tender, but were awarded to companies associated with Wananga management. This includes buying a Cuban literacy and numeracy course off Wetere’s fiancé for “over a million dollars”, awarding a $7 million migrant course to a company directed by Wetere’s daughter, and that a car-cleaning contract went un-tendered and was awarded to a company owned by the partner of the deputy chief executive.

Finally, there’s the extravagant spending of tax payer money on seemingly justifiable and accountable purchases. This includes a fleet of over 120 cars, an apartment at the Whanagaparoa resort town of Gulf Harbour, two pubs; one in Hamilton, the other in Te Rapa; and a half-million dollar golf driving range for 25 students. The apartment was, apparently, the base for the captain of the Wananga waka, and, according to Wetere, was a “working office” not a holiday home, despite being on the other side of Auckland to the nearest Wananga campus in Manukau City. The pub in Hamilton – the Glenview International Hotel – was to be converted into a management training facility, but is still open to the public two years after purchase.

So, to return to the original question: what do I think?

Te Wananga o Aotearoa has lifted Maori participation in tertiary education to new heights. 40% of all Maori tertiary students are enrolled there. These are certainly admirable figures, however, unless they are getting a worthwhile education (which is debatable), is there really any point in them attending?

There is absolutely no way any institution can justify the use of public money to fund enrollment incentives. $2 million spent on cell phones so students can contact their tutors is a waste of money, but, is this the Wananga’s fault? They are, after all, simply operating within the parameters set by the government funding model – a model which has to be destroyed.

To quote a New Zealand Herald editorial (as much as it pains me to do so) “Whanaungatanga, of course, does not make nepotism right.” No one should be reliant on family connections for an unfair advantage in any field. Relating to the extravagant spending also; if a public institution wants to be funded through taxpayer money, they must be account able and transparent with how they spend it.

There is room for Wananga in the New Zealand tertiary education sector. Maybe it’s a yet another victim of Maori bashing. Maybe not. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe not. But I hope Te Wananga works through this, and comes out the other end an even more reputable institution.

Michael Collins to Stand for ACT in Mana

I was interested to read on DPF's blog that my old foe, Michael Collins is standing for ACT in Mana. Michael stood against me for VUWSA President, and ran an admirable campaign, which subsequently got 4 of his ticket elected to exec.

Although our politics are chalk-and-cheese different, I hold a high level of respect for Michael, and wish him well. Standing for a neo-liberal (or what ever label ACT use nowdays) in Porirua - a city hit hard, but recovering slowly from factory closures and the like - takes a certain amount of guts.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

I read with some interest your article “Advertising to lure students a shameful ‘waste of money’” (Dominion Post 9 March). Your publication’s coverage of student issues demonstrates not only an extensive knowledge of the tertiary sector, but journalistic integrity when it comes to covering the generation of debt.

Unfortunately, the comments of Professor David MacKay (Victoria University Deputy Vice Chancellor) in regards to the institution’s marketing budget are not nearly of the same calibre.

Professor MacKay states they are working to build the Victoria University “brand” in Auckland. As someone who was attracted to Victoria from the University of Auckland, I can personally assure Professor MacKey that the “brand” had absolutely nothing to do with my decision – it was based on the academic reputation of the institution and the opportunity to live in the vibrant Wellington urban environment (for the record, I was not disappointed with either).

Victoria University should be letting their relatively strong 2004 Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF) rating speak for it’s self, and stop wasting $895,000 of student money on intelligence-insulting advertising. This money would be better spent on improving the academic facilities of the institution, further improving the institution’s PBRF rating – or not putting university fees up for 2006.

Makes you think, doesn’t it Professor MacKay?

Jeremy Greenbrook
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blogging and Other Forms Of Procrastination

Having been struck down with a flu-like (I say flu-like as I don't actually beleive it to be the flu, rather a bad cold, which I imagine will go away in the next 24 hours - I hope) illness, I have ventured little beyond the warm comfort of my bed (in fact, as I blog, I am lying in bed with my laptop beside me). My time is filled with a combination of snoozing, looking out the window at suberban Northland, surfing the internet, watching House of Cards (the dvd box set was kindly lent to me by Greame), and doing a little VUWSA/university work.

House of Cards is a great series. I came across it late one night while channel surfing on UKTV. Ian Richardson does so well as Francis Urquhart. It's just a great shame that some of the parts are so horribly over acted (the American owner of the Conservitive-friendly newspaper is a case in point). The Shakepearian confide with the audience works so well, even if it is just Urquhart grinning at the camera. I have just begun the second series, which has Urquhart as the Prime Minister, and have to say that it is not nearly as good as his climb to the top in the first series.

I gave my first lecture yesturday. No, I have not gained a Certificate of Tertiary Teaching from Te Wanaga O Aoteatroa. I was merely presenting a guest lecture for my supervisor, Tim Vowles. It was Geography 216, and, I have to say, the class were rather unreceptive to say the very least. I presented the same lecture in an honours seminer last year, and there were plenty of questions, but this group of second years seemed to understand it perfectly. Strange. I enjoyed giving the lecture, even if I was coughly and spluttering all the way through it, and wouldn't mind exploring it as a carrier path (which, unfortunatly, would mean even longer at univeristy, but probably not at Victoria). The lecture was on retail geography, particularly Christaller's Central Place Theory and Hotelling's Stability in Competition Theory, both of which are of considerable interest to me. I am giving a second lecture tomorrow afternoon (hence why I want to be better) on the world city hypothosis. I should be preparing for that now, really.

Monday, March 07, 2005

A Salient Tradition

It was brought to my attention a few years back by then VUWSA Treasurer Robert Whitaker, that every issue 3 of Salient since 2000 has had a cat (in one form or other) on the front cover.

Today's issue continued this fine tradition.

I am told (as I wasn't at Victoria in 2000) that this started as an accident, and now the editor's pass this on from year to year.

President's Column - It Makes You Think

A few years back I was sitting in a movie theatre, about to watch the latest Hollywood release. As always, they started off with a number of trailers for up-coming movies, followed by a few television commercials. The first commercial was the Coke ad filmed at the beach, boarding down a ski ramp made of the frostings from a freezer. Despite being a commercial, the quadraphonic sound (or whatever they call it) made Neasin Mystik sound great.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do as much credit for the next advertisement. This one started off with a black and white silhouette of a rather plump woman, and a dollar value beside her. As the women lost weight, the dollar value went up.

What on earth could this be advertising?, I thought. A plastic surgeon? A local brothel? Recruiting the Singapore Girl? No, those ideas were miles too logical – it was a commercial for the fine institution that is the Victoria University of Wellington.

I may not have a degree in marketing, but even I can tell you that the campaign is misguided and vague. It says very little about what is available to study at Victoria. It says absolutely nothing about life at Victoria. And it says nothing about the academic standards at Victoria (except, perhaps, the impression that, like the commercials, Victoria University is somewhat simple).

It is also exceptionally expensive. According to AC Neilson figures (released by the New Zealand University Students’ Association last week) television advertising in 2004 cost Victoria University some $364,000. Out of a total university budget of over $200 million, that’s not a hell of a lot, really but it breaks down to $24 per full time student, $242 per fulltime staff member, $7000 per week, or just under $1000 per day. This is out of a total marketing budget of $895,000. (I wonder if a better marketing strategy would be to do away with television advertising, and instead simply give each student a cheque for $24? That’s 4 jugs of beer at Eastside…).

It makes you think, doesn’t it? Why does the university – a public institution - have to market itself in order to attract students? Why are New Zealand universities forced to operate within a market environment?

The answer to this is the same as if you are taking a 200-level law paper, and asking why you have to sit in the isle – the university is funded by the government on a bums-on-seats basis. The more students they attract, the more funding they get, the bigger their surplus is, and the better the university looks as a commercial enterprise. This model pegs institutions against institutions, faculties against faculties, and courses against courses in order to attract the greatest number of students, and, subsequently, the greatest amount of funding (hence the massive push by the School of Information Management for students to enroll in INFO 101 – which I ranted about a few weeks ago).

There is significant research to show that this advertising doesn’t actually work. The NZUSA Income and Expenditure Survey 2004 states that only 6% of students regard advertising as a source of information when choosing where to study. More important sources of information are course advice, school advisors, and friends and family.

Why should you care about this? Well, becuase it's your money they're spending. In 2004, tuition fees went up by 3%, and advertising expenditure went up 33%. What that means is that the money you spend in good faith - for the library, for computing services, for quality lecturers, for all of the resources to help you get the best education possible - is instead being spent on an inefficient advertising campaign.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Joys of Cable Internet

My flat has finally caved in and got cable internet through Satern. Updating your blog at 100 mbps is great...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lindsay Wright (1943-2005)

This obituary is being published in Salient this week.

Lindsay Gemmell Wright was born in Central Otago July 6 1943 into an Open Brethren family. Lindsay attended Dunedin Teachers College, Otago University, and Canterbury University (where he served on the student association executive), before graduating with a Masters of Philosophy in 1969. He was a dominant figure of the Christchurch gay subculture at a time long before the homosexual law reform bill. Soon after graduating, he moved to Wellington as Educational Research Officer for the New Zealand University Students Association (of which he was voted life membership in the 1970s). Lindsay was heavily involved in anti-Vietnam War movement, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, Halt All Racist Tours, and the Aids Foundation. After NZUSA, Lindsay held several posts, including public relations officer for the Historic Places Trust, and Public Relations Officer for Victoria University. He also sat on the Victoria University council for one term. In 1989, he was appointed National Director of Student Job Search, a position he held for 15 years.

After a two year fight against cancer, Lindsay died on Friday 25 February.

He will be dearly missed by all that knew him.


Here (thanks Bloggreen) and

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Media Release - VUW Marketing Budget "Makes You Think"

Victoria University spent an extra $200,000 of student money on marketing in 2004 compared to 2003, money needlessly raised out of increased student fees, according to Jeremy Greenbrook, President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA)

“According to AC Neilson figures released by the New Zealand University Students’ Association, Victoria spent more that $895,000 on marketing in 2004. This includes $364,000 on television and $267,000 on newspaper advertising” said Greenbrook. “Research shows that very few students pay any attention to this sort of advertising.”

The NZUSA Income and Expenditure Survey 2004 showed that only 6% of students regard advertising as a major source of information when deciding where to study, favouring one-on-one course advice information received through high schools, course advise, friends and family.

“Students are questioning the spending priorities of the management of Victoria University, and will not stand for a continuation of this level of spending in 2005” said Greenbrook.

For further details, contact:
Jeremy Greenbrook
President - Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
021 899 430 – 04 463 6986

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

First 59 Days of the Administration

It's been two months now since I took office. Things have got slightly more rocky, but there have been some great rewards (such as Orientation). We have had two resignations, and a few personality clashes on exec (not me, as I don't really have a personality - gets in the way).

A few things that I am proud of:

  • Still on talking terms with the Vice Chancellor and University Council (although the Chief Financial Officer - Wayne Morgan - and I had a small run in at Audit committee). I stood along side Pat Walsh (putting politics and personalities aside) when there was a death in the university library. Also, still have a working relationship with the Student Union (the people who run our building).
  • Orientation went off. It was great. There was a strong VUWSA presence at all events. There was even a small ori event at Rutherford House.
  • Visited all (but one) of the first year hostels.
  • Built relationships with Student Services.
  • I have met with representatives of all the Education Rep Groups, and will be meeting with reps from the Welfare Rep Groups this month,

Some statistics:
4 - Exec meetings (2 this month)
2 - NZUSA FedEx meetings (1 this month)
3 - Salient President's columns (all this month)
0 - Exec resignations
2 - Staff resignations
0 - Exec members who are not talking to me
2.5 - Press releases (none this month)
1 - Television appearances (None this month)
4 - Radio appearances (2 Newstalk ZB)
7 - Newspaper quotes (None this month)
2 - Days off (None this month)
6 - Official functions (5 this month)
45 - Average number of emails per hour
35 - Average number of spam emails per hour
0 - Effigies burnt
0 - Defimation suits
1 - Meetings with the Vice Chancellor (although his secretary reads my blog - hi Christine)
0 - Words written on my thesis
1 - Run-ins with former Presidents
2 - Bridges burnt

I have enrolled in my thesis, and may take some time out to begin work on that. I'm also lecturing in GEOG 216 next week.

All the exec have really come on board this month, with stuff like orientation. The death of John Darden on Feb 16 cast a shadow over the month, and knocked the wind out of both Pat Walsh and I for a while (both being new to our respective jobs).

Listed on BlogShares