Reasons to be hopeful

It’s the first week of September which means spring is here, and so is your monthly dose of hope!

Here is a brief and beautiful overview of some of the amazing community-powered efforts for a fair and flourishing Aotearoa New Zealand that have taken place over the last four weeks. We hope you enjoy it!

We’re working together to nourish Papatūānuku and plant more native trees

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A collage of people planting trees featuring dogs and spades

Recently, around 40 ActionStation and Thankyou Payroll volunteers came together on a sunny afternoon in Pōneke (Wellington) to plant 300 native trees. We were the last round of volunteers who have planted tens of thousands of trees over the last couple months in an effort to bring back the original forest.

The event was sponsored by our friends at Boquita who provided delicious empanadas and chilli hot chocolate for all! One of the most common requests we get from ActionStation members is more opportunities to connect with others in this community in real life, and the other is more opportunities to care for our rivers, forests and lakes — this event was a way to do both!

We hope to do more events like this in the future, so watch this space.

We launched our report on youth wellbeing to 800+ youth workers, policy advisors, philanthropists and young people

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Two photos of Laura presenting our research at the Involve conference

The government recently announced plans to develop a Child Wellbeing Strategy to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

While this is an admirable and excellent goal, we wondered what it would look like for Aotearoa New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a tamaiti (child), a taiohi (young person), a pāke (adult) or a kaumātua (elder).

What if the goal was wellbeing for all?

Recently, we were commissioned by Ara Taiohi — the peak body for youth development — to conduct research to help answer at least part of that question. We surveyed, interviewed and workshopped with more than 1,000 young people and the result is a report that lays down a wero (challenge) to people in power to prioritise the values and vision put forward by our young people and calls on them to lift our collective aspirations for a kinder, fairer country and world.

The full report is available for free online here.

The PDF version of the report is available here.

If you would like to watch a video of the presentation of the report that I delivered at the Involve conference a couple of weeks ago to 800+ youth workers, policy advisors, philanthropists and young people then click here.

If you would like to help us make the ambitious vision of young people a reality, then please chip in here.

We’re helping homeless whānau get access to justice

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Laura handing over a giant cheque for $1500 to four of the Community Law Wellington crew

Last month, I sat down for a coffee with Krissi from Community Law in Wellington. Krissi is one of the most passionate people I have ever met. Through her work, she’s striving to ensure that our justice system is accessible to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Right now, too many people in our country — especially those living at the brink — are struggling to get the essential support and information they need about their rights when it comes to the law.

Things like:

  • What are my rights as a tenant or an employee?
  • How do I apply for ACC?
  • What mental health help am I legally entitled to?
  • What happens if I get into debt I can’t pay off?
  • What rights do I have when it comes to dealing with police?

We worked with Krissi and her team to raise funds from the ActionStation community to help make sure that every homeless shelter in New Zealand has a Community Law Manual so that people living rough, or sleeping on the streets, can have access to information about their legal rights. Manuals cost $150 each and together we raised enough money to donate 10 copies to homeless shelters!

If you would like to buy a copy of the Manual for yourself or your organisation, you can buy a copy online here.

We’re building the capacity of volunteers to heal Aotearoa of racism one online conversation at a time

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Image description: Mark Stevens comments: "How on earth do you equate learning te reo with mindfulness and calmness? The most violent, underachieving and criminal culture in the country!"

Volunteer comments: "Kia ora Mark, it’s evident we have differing opinions on this one. From my experience learning te reo Māori as a pākehā person, it has so far been a richly rewarding, insightful and spiritual experience. The Māori language is highly expressive and communicates deep understanding (in terms of nature, whakapapa, whakaaro and wairua) that English as a language simply doesn’t convey. I’m sorry that you don’t see the beauty of the reo, but we can surely agree to disagree."

Recently, we gathered a group of 19 amazing Tauiwi (non-Māori) and Pākehā at Innermost Gardens in Wellington to train them up to begin a two-month long journey of tackling hate, one online conversation at a time.

Their mission?

  • Educate others about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand history;
  • Defend the rights of Māori in online spaces;
  • Challenge racial stereotypes and invite healing conversations between Māori and non-Māori.

This network of volunteers’ job is to fight casual and outright racism by injecting light and love into online spaces, and to capture the learnings so we can hold the Facebooks and media outlets of the world to account for the racism they allow to flourish in their spaces.

From these conversations, we will create resources for anyone, anywhere wanting to have difficult conversations about ending racism and colonisation online and over dinner tables.

Above, you can see an example of one of our great volunteers in action. If you would like to help us build an an Aotearoa New Zealand where everyone understands, values and honour te Tiriti o Waitangi and te reo Māori, then please sign here.

We’re supporting Grace’s call for a kinder approach to residential care

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A photo of Grace and her mum

Grace Taylor is an Auckland writer and performer whose mother is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s (or Early Onset Dementia). Her mum’s health deteriorated in March and she and her brother had to make a heartbreaking decision to admit her into a residential care home.

This could happen to anyone — it is estimated that 60,000 New Zealanders have dementia, and that number will increase in the next 35 years to more than 150,000.

For Grace and her brother paying for in-home care wasn’t an option at $30 an hour. One of the cheapest care homes Grace could find was in Māngere, where a basic room costs $4,960 a month.

When Grace’s mum’s application to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) for a residential care home subsidy was denied, she was told she wouldn’t be able to re-apply for another four years.

Grace’s mum has no assets in her name, but MSD includes any assets over a five-year period before an application for assistance. Gifting assets in this time is only allowed up to $6,500 within each 12 month period.

Just over a year ago, Grace’s mum gifted the home she had lived in for 40 years to her children. No money was exchanged and Grace took over the mortgage.

After being declined the subsidy, Grace will now be forced to sell that house.

Grace says, “My mum has worked all her life in New Zealand since she came from Samoa in her early twenties. She’s worked 12 hours a day, if not more, six days a week, has never received any benefit from the government, especially being a single mum. She’s been a good person and contributed to the economy and now she’s being punished.”

Grace is campaigning for the law to be reviewed and change the criteria of the residential care home subsidy. She’s going to Parliament to deliver her petition on Thursday 20 September.

Watch Grace’s story featured on Tagata Pasifika: Family forced to sell home to pay for mum’s care.

And then sign the petition to support Grace’s call for improved access to the residential care home subsidy.

Hapū, iwi, community groups and fishing companies work together to protect our precious ocean and the creatures living in it

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A blue whale

The High Court upheld the appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of a consent to seabed mining company Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight for iron ore.

Local iwi and hapū, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngā Rauru, have been leading this fight with support from fishing companies and environmental groups like Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Forest and Bird and more.

The High Court decision is a major blow for the seabed mining industry in Aotearoa New Zealand — and that’s thanks to thousands of people like you who protested, and who made more than 13,000 submissions against it. This is a people powered win!

This is a HUGE victory for South Taranaki, a victory for the Blue Whales sanctuary proposed in what would be the mined area, and a victory for the entire marine ecosystem of Aotearoa.

The disability community are calling for accessibility legislation to be put at the heart of a more inclusive Aotearoa

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Photo shows Hon. Minister Carmel Sepuloni, MP’s Poto Williams and Chlöe Swarbrick surrounded by Access Matters supporters in pink “Access Matters” t-shirts following the presentation event. Photo credit Victor Komarovsky

For over a year now, the Access Matters campaign, led by a group of twelve disability organisations called the Access Alliance, have been calling for accessibility legislation.

As part of their campaign, many disabled people have been sharing their personal stories about the access barriers they face in trying to get around, access buildings or housing, work, or participate in our communities.

This week, Access Matters campaigners delivered a booklet full of personal stories to Minister for Disability Issues Hon. Carmel Sepuloni. The booklet is teeming with stories of people facing different, but connected barriers.

There’s Aine’s story. Aine is blind. After receiving a job offer, she was disappointed that the electronic job acceptance paperwork sent by the employer were not accessible with her screen reader. Approaching the organisation and requesting accessible forms, the organisation said they couldn’t provide these, because they were government-issued forms. Aine was ready to give her skills and talents to an organisation, but faced barriers to employment.

There’s Natasha’s story. Natasha and her husband are deaf. One day, in the middle of a train trip, they saw everyone getting off the train, and they couldn’t work out why. The conductor came over to them and started telling them off, but she spoke too fast for them to follow what she was saying. Accessibility law could ensure that all drivers are required to do disability awareness training, so they know how to communicate so all passengers can access important information.

An accessibility law will make it a priority. It’s what we need to set clear standards, timeframes, and guidelines, so that organisations and governments will take action to remove barriers to accessibility. Change is possible, and it can happen now. Click here to find out more about the campaign and show your support.

People of minority genders are organising to ensure the health of their community is counted and cared for by government

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Six diverse people illustrated with the heading ‘Counting ourselves’

Counting Ourselves is an anonymous community-led survey about the health of trans and non-binary people living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The survey closes on 30 September and is totally anonymous.

Anyone can fill out the survey if:

  • their gender is different from their sex assigned at birth, whatever words they use to describe who they are;
  • they are aged 14 or older; and
  • they currently live in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The survey takes about an hour, but can be longer if you want to share more of your experiences. You can start the survey and then come back later to finish it. Your answers will be saved as long as you come back to the same device within a month, and you have cookies enabled on that device. If people would prefer to fill out a paper version of the survey, they can contact organisers and they will send it out, along with a pre-stamped return envelope.

Visit this website to find out more and participate.

We are also crowdfunding right now to flood the streets of Aotearoa with positive messages of pro-inclusive feminism and pro-trans rights messages. To read more about that and chip in, click here.

That’s all for this month’s updates!

As always, thank you for everything that you do for a fairer, kinder, more inclusive and aroha (love) filled Aotearoa New Zealand.

Together, we are powerful.

Ngā manaakitanga (Take care),
Laura, Eliot, Leroy, Yvonne, Ann, Vim and Madeleine — your ActionStation team.

Written by

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.

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