Sunday, September 23, 2007

2007. NZ Canterbury Spirit and WINZ Hassles, 1999

< 2000. Esslemonts & Mackintosh, Little River Bird Sanctuary.

We saw more royalty in Christchurch than we ever saw in London. Once when the queen visited we stood on a tram-stop bench and waved. The yellow-dressed queen frowned at our boys through a tram window, while her tram squashed coins we'd placed on the tramline. Later prince Andrew stared at Agricultural and Pastoral Show cattle, while we stared at him during a Show Day public holiday. In 2005, we saw balding prince William on TV, while he watched the British Lions losing to the All Blacks.

I supported Canterbury Crusaders and All Blacks when they won, and supported Natal Sharks and Springboks when they won. For years I watched boys, grown into men, whom I'd taught in SA, playing for the Springboks and Protea cricket teams. Professional All blacks bleatingly lost 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 World Cups. When I saw sports hakas, I thought of constipated babies. Enjoying Kiwi rugby -mania, I supported All Blacks, while losing contact with SA.

Red-and-black Canterbury spirit showed when I took Jake to a Ranfurly Shield match between Canterbury Crusaders and blue -and-gold Otago at Jade Stadium. Fans, with painted faces, waved flags and banners. Crusader fans waved foam-rubber swords. An Otago fan waved a blue-and-gold paper mache chain-saw. Cops scowled beneath floodlights when fans flung empty, plastic beer bottles. Before the match, dancing girls jiggled tits and butts, and waved pompoms and legs, while Crusader horsemen trotted round the field. At half-time 21 girls waving to fans cleaved on 21 Harley Davidsons roaring round the pitch. At match-end, fireworks exploded above, and drunks swayed. Canterbury women enjoyed the show, like their men: "Go Cannabry Go!"

Canterbury spirit showed at annual Ray Blank Park Culture Galore festivals, celebrating ethnic music and dancing; national costumes; singing; food; crafts of many immigrant nationalities. I'm intrigued why Kiwis who protested against apartheid, during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour, where silent when post-apartheid SA had excessive rapes, murders, bombings, corruption, racist employment quotas, theft? I'm intrigued why Kiwi Black Caps cricketers toured Zimbabwe in 2005, when Mugabe destroyed thousands of squatter dwellings, making 700 000 citizens jobless and homeless? Why the Kiwi one-eyed morality for blacks and whites? (Christine Lamb, House of Stone, HarperCollins, London, 2006).

Jake's decile 5 Hillmorton High School had international students, who paid high fees. Jake's Post Primary Teachers Association unionised teachers didn't regularly mark his classwork. Assessments and exams were marked. For five years, no teacher inspired Jake to do extra-curricular sport. I thought Hillmorton teachers had failed in their duty of care to develop consistent excellence in at least one senior subject and one extra-curricular activity of Jake's. His senior subjects and ECA were badly managed, which didn't inspire Jake, nor impress me.

WINZ letters addressed us as, "you and our partner." As Leah and I'd been married for over two decades, I complained to Gosling about Leah's, "partner" designation. Gosling wrote,"I agree we should be able to adjust the wording to reflect our specific customer's particular situation, however this is not an easily rectifiable task..." (WINZ letter December 1998). WINZ designated me a, "customer." I therefore benefitted bureaucrats incapable of matching professional immigrants to professional jobs.

In May 1999, Gosling wrote to Leah: "You are now required to be actively seeking and available for part-time work for a minimum of 15 hours per week... or your payments may stop." We'd regularly informed WINZ (and former Income Support) by telephone and in writing of Leah's work, which exceeded 15 hours/week during school terms. Gosling either ignored our communications, or didn't get them.

WINZ touted "training" for unemployed people, who kept statisticians and researchers busy with training trends. Training establishments were busy training and applying for taxpayer funding. Taxpayers kept the unemployed, trainers, WINZ employees and Inland Revenue busy. Taxpayers kept Wellington lolly-scramblers busiest of all. When a SA immigrant told me he was applying for a WINZ job I said, "Only the brain-dead work for WINZ."

Wanting to classify me, "Invalid," on an Invalid's benefit, eligible for a study grant, Gosling sent me to a WINZ designated Quack, who glanced at my audiologists' reports, then complained about, "stupid questions" in the 11 page WINZ Invalid Medical Assessment form she had to complete. The Edinburgh trained Quack didn't empathize with my deafness, nor my professional unemployment. She said working in a nursery was good for me. "Not in bad weather," I said.

The designated Quack advised WINZ: "Profoundly deaf. Fit for part-time work only. Could apply for tertiary training." (WINZ Designated Doctor Medical Assessments, May 1999, October 1999). I wondered how Quacks became experts about jobs and training, as well as medical matters?

Gosling wrote: "I am unable to grant an Invalid's benefit. You can ask for any decision we make to be reviewed." (WINZ letter June 1999). WINZ wasted my resources, and dumbed me down by manipulating compliant Quacks. I complained. Gosling, on-the-job for over 12 years, was apologetic about sending me on goose-chases, but unremorseful. Her scheme to massage dole statistics by transferring my name from dole beneficiary to Invalid beneficiary had failed.

When I asked why I had to trek 18km return trips to meetings at Sydenham WINZ office, when Riccarton or Hornby WINZ offices were nearer my Oakland's home, Gosling wrote: "I am sorry to hear that the location of the Sydenham office is not convenient for you. Unfortunately the Halswell district does fall under the Sydenham zone." (Ibid November 1999).

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Christchurch City Libraries Historical Agricultural and Pastoral Show Day Photos.

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