Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spring has sprung in New Zealand...

Spring has sprung in New Zealand...

Forget global warming, climate change and the carbon footprint - it is springtime in New Zealand. Whether its those spring flowers in Hagley Park, Christchurch or the natives in the bush - spring has sprung in New Zealand!

New Zealand gardeners often bemoan the 'greenness' of our native flora. The showy wildflowers of North America, the tropics and elsewhere are not for us. But we have some true gems amongst our natives, valued highly in other countries, even if they are sometimes passed over in their own country.

Flowers abound, though; it's simply a case of knowing when, and where, to look for them. Spring is one of the most spectacular times in the calendar with kowhai, clematis and Chatham Island Forget-Me-Nots all producing dazzling displays.

Flowering Trees
Spring is peak flowering time for native trees and most of our showiest trees, apart from the Christmas blooms of the pohutukawa, flower in spring.

Kowhais are one of the first signs of spring in New Zealand, the bright yellow flowers appearing even from late winter. Loved by nectar seeking native birds and gardeners alike, every New Zealand garden should include at least one kowhai.

There are several species and a number of forms available from the slower growing and slower to flower South Island kowhai (S. microphylla), the faster developing North Island kowhai (S. tetraptera) to the dumpy, delightful hybrids such as 'Dragon's Gold' that flowers even before winter ends. And more:

The Green Planet

Monday, September 21, 2009

American research would support the retention of New Zealand's so-called anti-smacking legislation...

At a time when the ultra rightwing Act Party New Zealand is seeking to overturn and revoke the so-called "anti-smacking legislation" in New Zealand, new research has emerged from the United States that the smacking of young children by their low income minority group mothers has set off a few explosions within American society.

The research from Duke University which has been published in the journal of CHILD DEVELOPMENT revealed the study of 2573 toddlers and has found that for poor children, early and frequent smacking by the age of one year, is not only common, but made these children more aggressive by the age of two years, and by the age of three years their socio- emotional development had slowed dramatically.

They also found that low socio-economic mothers are more likely to have started smacking a fussy and irritable baby by the age of one year if the mothers are depressed. Boys were yelled at and smacked more often than girls, and the poorer the family, the greater the likelyhood children would be punished at an earlier age.

The collective results suggest that the causes and effects of smacking are bound tightly together, making it very difficult to interpret the particular influences of poverty, genetics, gender differences and culteral expectations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends against corporal punishment.

This research put into a New Zealand perspective would suggest the so-called anti-smacking legislation in this country should not in any circumstance be revoked or even amended. It has also been reported that very few so-called good parents have been prosecuted. So why would you want to break something that is actually working?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NZ rugby boss, Jock Hobbs, battling leukemia...

New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs is battling leukaemia.

The former All Black, 49, who is credited with bringing the Rugby World Cup 2011 to New Zealand, confirmed yesterday that he had cancer.

"Yes, I have been diagnosed with leukaemia but it's in a chronic form, not acute," he told The Dominion Post. "It's being monitored and I feel fine."

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow and is characterised by a buildup of blood cells usually white cells. Though acute leukaemia requires immediate treatment, chronic forms are sometimes monitored and left untreated for a time to ensure the most effective therapy. The disease can take months or years to progress. Hobbs was diagnosed about four years ago.

He has attended some of the All Blacks' training sessions in past weeks and took part in one earlier this year.

A characteristically private man, he was an All Black flanker from 1983 to 1986, playing 21 tests, and became captain at 24, including on three overseas tours.

Hobbs studied law and, aged 23, was admitted to the bar. He was tipped to captain the 1987 World Cup team but was ruled out after too many concussions. He became a member of the NZRU council in 1995, was removed in 1996 and reinstated as chairman in 2002. He is also credited with saving the NZ game when rugby went professional in 1990's - but that is another story!

He is credited with persuading prime minister Helen Clark to fly to Dublin to pledge the Government's support for the 2011 World Cup bid.

In 2006 he was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his work, but told The Dominion Post at the time: "In some ways I feel as though I've been singled out. I was just one of a number of people involved in the bid."

Hobbs is married to Nicky, sister of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

They have four children and live in Wellington.

Acknowledgements: Dompost

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wellington earthquake risk overestimated for years...

Wellington earthquake risk has been over-estimated for years...

The Wellington, New Zealand, earthquake risk is less than previously thought. The experts have been telling us for years that the next big one is just round the corner. But now our fears have been alleviated just a little.

GNS Science says the likelihood of a major quake on the Wellington fault line in the next century is fifty percent less than thought.

The risk of a big earthquake flattening Wellington may have been overestimated for years.

The study from GNS Science has found that the likelihood of a major rupture on the Wellington fault line during the next 100 years is fifty percent less than previously thought.

GNS scientist Russ Van Dissen says the study could provide some relief for Wellingtonians.

"Big one might be less likely but smaller or more distant earthquakes can still have a significant impact on the city. And the extra good news is those smaller or more localised impacting events are the ones that we can do the most about."

Mr Van Dissen says should a big one strike, Wellington's hospital could be damaged, the water system could go down and roads out of the city could be blocked. He says this could alter the basis on which Wellingtonians make business and investment decisions.

Fred McCoy from the Wellington City Council says despite the lowered risk, residents should remain prepared.

"Frankly that's what worries me - that people will say that they no longer need to be as prepared so they stop being vigilant about keeping water and food and having a plan and knowing what they're going to do."

Mr McCoy says the risks still exist and the council will not be changing its earthquake response. The bang just may not be as big as expected - but how big is big?

Acknowledgements: 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Read here

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hutt Valley DHB mental health reorganisation...

Re the Hutt News article concerning the reorganisation of HVH Maori Mental Health:

The Maori and Pacifica mental health unit will be disbanded through the reorganisation of mental health at the Hutt Valley Health Board.

We have had a family member being treated there for over 18 months now. We had him transfered when we became disillusioned with the mainstream Mental Health Unit at Hutt Valley DHB. Actually we have been considering having him transfered back again because we have not been happy with his treatment at the Maori Mental Health Unit.

Claims that this decision by HVDHB is rascist and an attempt at assimilation is wrong, insulting and rather stupid in my opinion. I don't believe the Maori Mental health Unit has been successful in recent times at servicing the needs of Maori and Pacifica patients; and they are patients not clients. I think it has been through overwork and staff shortages, not through any lack of ability. Some of the doctors and staff have been quite brilliant at what they do, when they are able to do so!

Lets face it, mental health has been the poor relation in the health sector for a few decades now. To give them more money is philosophically seen as taking money away from mainstream health. Which in itself is totally stupid. The National Party is probably worse than the Labour Party who has been bad enough. To be fair National closes units and department down and Labour doesn't know how to respond!

The general philosophy is these days that all patients should be out in the community - but this is as wrong as sending them all off to Porirua Hospital, and filling them up with strong medication and electric shock treatment.

There is a need for a balance because patients can get into a psychiatric unit at a public hospital only if they are considered as a danger to themselves or others! It can take weeks sometimes to get somebody admitted to the unit at Hutt Hospital - we know because we have been in that situation with our family member. Going up the wall and barking like a dog is not necessarily a good reason for getting admitted. Yeah right!

Hopefully the reorganisation of mental health at the Hutt Valley DHB will be in the best interests of all patients regardless or ethnicity. Those who claim racism, should pull their heads in. If we are not happyat the changes, we can again criticise those responsible. Quite frankly there should be reform at a national level. Can you see it? Yeah right!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Is this a shocking indictment of the American health system...


Is this a shocking indictment of the American health system, and perhaps of American society as well? Please read on:

A recent "20-20" television program in New Zealand exposed the problems existing in the American health system. The story starts in Idaho Falls, USA. An American woman named 'Heather' required a full hip replacement. The basic cost in America was US$60,000 exclusive of all other costs involved.

But like 45 million other families, 'Heather'and her family do not have, and cannot afford health insurance. Neither does she qualify for any form of government assistance, reserved for the very poor or those with identifiable needs. Sadly for her president Obama's proposed health scheme, if passed into law, will be too late for 'Heather'. She needs a full hip replacement now, or she will spend the rest of her life in a wheel-chair!

After some extensive online research, 'Heather' discovered she could get her hip-replacement offshore, not in Mexico for example, but in an English- speaking First World country down in the Pacific - New Zealand.

The total cost for 'Heather', inclusive of all associated medical costs, hotel bills and food for both her and a companion(her mother)would be US$23,000 all up!

'Heather' was able to find a foundation within the US who were prepared to pay half of her costs, and family and friends raised the other half.Then it was off to Auckland, New Zealand.

After flying to NZ and settling her mother into her hotel room, 'Heather' went to meet the surgeon responsible for her operation. She was interviewed and met the medical staff at the private hospital where the full hip operation was to be performed.

A new hip is guaranteed for about ten years, though some last indefinately.

She had her operation at a top private hospital in Auckland. They had the latest navigation system available to line-up her new hip.

Her operation was a complete success, and recovery took four weeks, during which time she was given an exercise regime, including walking. She was then passed fit enough to return home to the US for her rehabilition - with its market driven health system, which President Barack Obama is trying to overhaul. His opposition is coming from self-interest groups in the American health system, including the vast health insurance lobby.

So far there has really only been a trickle of clients such as 'Heather' seeking treatment outside the US. This has become known as "medical tourism".

How will this affect medical treatment for local Kiwis in the future? If this trickle becomes the flood that is anticipated it could well affect costs here in New Zealand. NZ could handle 2000-5000 clients a year, but if a tsunami of 20,000 clients hit NZ annually there could well be ramifications for the NZ health system - availabilty for operations could be compromised and costs could soar, affecting the state system as well.

There is no doubt that the estimated 15 million or so Americans will be going somewhere offshore from America in future years, and NZ will become a desirable destination and will get its share of an industry that could be equivalent to its present multimillion dollar wine industry. But what sort of "strain" could be put on the NZ health system? Could there be just a little temptation to sqeeze in some foreign clients into the NZ public health system too?
Posted by Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere at 5:40 PM 0 comments My other blogs

The Kiwi Riverman Post

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Green lady for Wellington traffic lights...

Traffic lights around Parliament could feature a green woman instead of a green man as part of a new proposal to make Wellington more recognisable as New Zealand's capital city.

Prime Minister John Key and Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast have launched the "Capital City Initiative - Our Extraordinary Democracy" which aims to improve the area around Parliament in preparation for the city's 150th anniversary in 2015. The area will be rebranded Capital Centre.

Cr Gerald Blunt from the Wellington City Council says the idea of changing the little green man on the traffic lights around Parliament to a little green woman is a reference to votes for women.

Mr Blunt says plans are also in place to build a visitor information centre.

Green lady