Thursday, September 13, 2007

2007. OSH and EEO, Family Visit and Fruit Picking, Christchurch NZ, 1996-1997

< 1996. Esslemonts & Mackintoshes, Dandelion Fountain, Christchurch City Hall on the Avon.

In December 1996, I queried National government Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) about work for deaf people. A bureaucrat wrote: "The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 does not contain any list of jobs which people with a hearing disability, or any other disability, can or cannot apply for. It is up to the employer to assess the risk of employing someone with a hearing disability."

Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) were questionable, as legal health and safety requirements negated EEO. In February 1997, I queried the Education Review Office about EEO in NZ schools. A bureaucrat in the National Ministry of Education, National Operations section wrote: "There is no national policy imposed on schools. Legislation places clear responsibilities on individual employers (Boards of Trustees) to identify needs and develop objectives specific to their own school environment... EEO in NZ has always been associated with the merit principal, where the best person for the job is appointed based on objective assessment against specific criteria... Christchurch region has a history of oversupply and teaching positions in the area are difficult to secure. You may have more success in other parts of the country. A further option to consider is relief-teaching."

I doubted, "objective assessment." Ten years later I was told by a Workbridge bureaucrat, who helped disabled people find jobs, that employers liked employees with a, "good attitude."

A SA French teacher couldn't find French teaching work in Christchurch. She relocated to Auckland, returned to Christchurch, then taught English to foreigners.

< 1996. Gran Mackintosh & Esslemont Brothers, Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Leah's mom and Gillie visited us, enjoying Christchurch, Lyttelton and Akaroa. At Birdling Flats, while Gillie searched for jade pebbles, I realized Leah and I'd dumped the conglomerate of our Azanian lives, and our sons would cut and polish our gems.

From Coopers Knobs we viewed Canterbury Plain and the Alps. Halswell Quarry top gave us more Alpine views. We enjoyed Hagley Park botanic gardens, and feeding ducks at Groynes. "NZ ducks," I said, "are better fed than Azanian street-kids. If I'm reincarnated, I'll become a NZ duck. Traffic stops for ducks..."

Gillie and I toured Kaiokura, Blenheim and Greymouth. Gillie liked walking across Buller River suspension bridge, but disliked sandfly stings...

< 1997. Gillie & Mark Esslemont, Lake Pukaki & Aoraki Mount Cook backdrop.

Gillie liked the salmon farm on the Tekapo-Pukaki canal, near Aoraki Mount Cook, and was impressed by lake depths, hundreds of metres, and huge rainbow and brown trout in Lake Wanaka... We explored Queenstown, Arrowtown and Lawrence - old gold mining areas... Near Mosgiel a speeding Christchurch Scenic tourist bus and later a speeding sheep-truck overtook us in heavy rain. Both drivers cut in too soon, nearly hitting us, had I not swerved twice off the road. "In my opinion," I spat, "Kiwi truckers are bad drivers. Tailgating truckers go faster than their speed limit. Rural roads are narrow and twisty. Road shoulders aren't wide enough, with ditches alongside. Rural roads aren't built for fast cars, or articulated log-trucks, stock-trucks, or articulated fuel -tankers and milk-tankers. All those white crosses on the roadside are for dead Kiwis."

In 1992, NZ cops and traffic cops had merged, resulting in neglected traffic policing. Motorists sped along roads during early years of our residence. Only in 2001 were traffic cops reintroduced, resulting in better traffic policing. Only in 2007 were cops on motorbikes introduced to Christchurch.

In 2008, NZ Labour government repurchased NZ Rail, after it had been sold and pointlessly privatized by a previous NZ government. The idea of repurchasing rundown rolling stock and railways was to revamp rolling stock and railways to unclog constipated NZ roads, all paid for again by NZ taxpayers.

We looked at soggy Dunedin and the nearby albatross colony. At Moeraki beach boulders, Gillie enjoyed seeing Hectors dolphins surfing and said, "I like NZ: no snakes, no monkeys, no kaffirs."

"Voertsek!" I said. Old folk like Gillie followed their migrant offspring. In NZ, if half or more than half the offspring of a family had trekked to NZ, or other countries, then parents of immigrants were eligible for automatic residence. Leah's family was scattered about SA, USA, Canada, UK and NZ.

A former Selborne College colleague had married a Kiwi. He lived and worked in Christchurch and raised Kiwi kids. A Kiwi nuptial was the easiest road to residence. When friends and family visited immigrants, they stimulated tourism and the economy. What grandparents wouldn't spoil grandchildren, not having seen them for years? Some grandparents immigrated successfully. Some arrived, opened and closed businesses, and grew old. Some lost loved ones in NZ, or their homeland. Some couldn't afford to backspoor to their homeland. Some stayed in their homeland, like Leah's folks. Paradoxically, with poor exchange-rates, they'd lose too much.

Leah regularly phoned her SA family. Thankfully, phone calls were cheap. I regularly wrote to Fraser and his SA curator. Old friends, who were poor correspondents or poor emailers, dwindled. We had to make new friends and "family" in NZ. Happily, my SA mother-in-law was an excellent correspondent, never forgetting birthdays and anniversaries in her extended family. Our boys lost out growing up with their SA "brat pack" cousins.

Early in 1997, on my arse an' knees, I picked raspberries and strawberries at a Prebbleton berry farm. Pay was low, according to number of filled buckets. Expediently, bucket size was big, relative to fruit size.

Near Prebbleton, arse an' knees reprised, I picked beans with Samoans for a SA immigrant, who paid crap. He exported to Japan, and Japs wanted small, straight, fresh beans, picked according to size, straightness, ripeness - not curved, wide beans.

By encouraging professional paying immigrants, like us, NZ National government ensured cheap, intelligent labour, later subsidized by the dole. If immigrants remained professionally unemployed, like us, but determined to stay in NZ, like us, then during their residence, before dole eligibility, NZ had captive, cheap-labour.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Aoraki Mount Cook, Mackenzie District.

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