Some Initial Afterthoughts and Steve Graham on what God is saying to Christchurch

I came across this blog entry by Steve Graham in relation to the Christchurch earthquake. Absolutely beautiful and words many of us need to hear (if your read out loud) or read.

It is very easy in all the tragedy and adrenaline filled stories to overlook the small things that are important as well. Sure enough I was disappointed with myself for not being out there in the streets to do the big stuff, but why? It has nothing to do with God’s love and all with pride and looking for the rush. Praise God for a wife that helps me see things for what they really are and bringing me back to reality: a grim one but also one of many undervalued moments of love and compassion in words and (perhaps many little) actions ,  and for pointing me towards a here and now and immediate future that offers still plenty of opportunity to serve God, my family and community, but this time according to His will for me and not my will for Him.

I guess Steve Graham further emphasized her point. His summary says it all:

  • Grieve: be true to what your heart and your body are saying you need to do. The sooner you do the sooner you move through that phase.
  • Take care of yourself: do the basics: eat, and sleep.
  • Listen for the heart promptings of “good” you could do
  • Begin restoring order and filling – and celebrate each small step and pace yourself as you do it.
  • Team together and focus what you can do knowing others will be building right next to you.
  • Find the life giving presence and power of God, the resurrection power of God, to rebuild hope life, laughter, joy, order, love, structure and fullness.
  • Let hope begin to arise – God is with us for recovery and this great city can be rebuilt.

Christchurch was beautiful city with a great legacy – but as Gerry Brownlee says legacy also plays forward. This is our chance to recover and build a legacy in this city for our grandchildren. May they be thankful for the recovery we brought, led and empowered by God.

For those of you who are not familiar with the name: Steve is the Dean of Laidlaw College. Read his entry here >>>

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What God is saying to Christchurch: “Recovery”

Christchurch has suffered a terrible tragedy – devastation, loss of life, calamity, unbelievable, mind-boggling, mind-numbing. Some of us just don’t know what to think and what the way ahead is. Is it hopeless, just so overwhelming that we cannot actually see a way ahead? Some of us hear the words of confidence and determination but our hearts don’t leap at the words and they fall flat and we feel more hopeless. Such a small community really, we might know one person who died but we know six people who know someone who died. So we know of seven people who died. Two degrees and all that. And so we also wonder, what is God saying in and through this time? What is He saying to the people of God? What is he saying to the city? How should we respond? What should we do? And even if we don’t wonder, others are more than happy to tell us what God is saying. Some claim it is an act of God, of His judgement. I actually do want to claim that I know what He is saying… He is saying “recovery.” (emphasis added by me)

Read the rest of this article here >>>

(John)Key Notes 25 February 2011


25 February 2011
Click here

to watch my latest video journal on YouTube 

Watch this video on YouTube



My thoughts and sympathies are with everyone who’s been affected by Tuesday’s earthquake, especially those who have lost loved ones. Watch or read my speech here

I’ve been down to Christchurch a few times since the earthquake. When I walked through the central city, it felt surreal. It was eerily quiet but as you looked around you knew that a real catastrophe had taken place.

It’s a disaster that has affected all New Zealanders in some way.

I’ve been heartbroken by stories of great loss and pain, and shocked by the extent of the damage. But I’ve also been encouraged by the survivor spirit of Cantabrians. It’s that spirit that I believe will get you through.

In Lyttleton, I saw a community that was devastated but rallying together in its time of greatest need. I met a woman who was cooking almost enough food to feed an army. Locals were bringing food from their freezers to her, she was cooking it, and they were sharing it with all who needed something to eat.

I met international tourists in Hagley Park who had fled from where they were at the time of the earthquake, leaving behind all their possessions including passports. They told me they were amazed by how well Cantabrians had looked after them and helped them.

That extraordinary spirit makes me proud to be a New Zealander.

This earthquake marks the beginning of a long and challenging journey for Christchurch. But New Zealanders stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this journey, and the Government is behind you 100 per cent of the way.

I want to acknowledge the huge amount of work being put in by so many people, particularly the hundreds of search and rescue workers, emergency personnel, and medical professionals.

Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though Christchurch will never look the same, we will help Cantabrians rebuild their lives.


Our immediate focus is on search and rescue. Here’s some of what the government has done so far:

For the latest information on the Government’s response, click here.



I’d like to thank the thousands of New Zealanders, and people around the world, who are donating money and offering to help Christchurch.

If you would like to help, you could contact the Red Cross (, the Salvation Army ( or the Rotary New Zealand World Community Service ( Many banks are also offering ways to help, so contact your bank to find out more.

All other offers of help from the public should be directed to

Best wishes,

John Key
Prime Minister

Click here to view photos on Flickr of my visits to Canterbury this week.



Thanks John for these notes, you presence here in Christchurch is, I am sure greatly appreciated. For the first time in a long time they felt for real again.

Proposed Changes to Employment Law in New Zealand

John Key and Kate Wilksinson announced a number of changes to employment law recently.  While the information is publicly available it is somewhat scattered over various government web sites.  The draft Bill relating to these changes will be subject to public submission once it has been referred to the relevant Select Committee.

  1. 90 day trial period extended to all employers regardless of size of the business.
    This will require prior agreement by the parties. Certain criteria will need to be met before employers can dismiss people within this period.
  2. Employer is to provide employees with a signed employment agreement.
    Where the agreement is not signed, the employer will have to provide an unsigned copy.  This proposal is designed to clarify uncertainties caused by case law.
  3. Amendments to the justification test(103A of the Employment Relations Act 2000).  This will require the Employment Relations Authority to look at what a hypothetical fair and reasonable employer could have done in all the circumstances at the time the dismissal or action occurred. On that basis a dismissal or action by an employer may be deemed justified.
  4. Substance over Form Changes are looking at having overall fairness prevail over the process as is currently the case under the Employment Relations Act 2000.
    Changes proposed include: taking into account employer’s resources, avoiding unnecessary scrutiny on process and a stronger focus on the key elements of fairness (proper investigation, communicating with the employee, giving the employee a reasonable opportunity to respond to concerns, fair and open minded consideration of employee’s explanations, verify whether or not the employee has been treated unjustly).  In essence the changes are a codification of case law requirements.
  5. A Code of Employment Practice relating to disciplinary and dismissal procedures.  Finally I would almost say.
  6. Easier access to Alternative Dispute Resolution (mediation).
    Theoretically this should assist employers and employees in risk assessment at an early stage and avoid costly litigation.
  7. Allow the Employment Relations Authority to give priority to mediated cases.
    An incentive for mediation of course. Sometimes however cases simply are not (or no longer) suitable for mediation and this amendment could cause prejudice to parties or force them to undertake a mediation knowing that it will not succeed.
  8. Allow the Employment Relations Authority to advise when mediation is impractical or inappropriate.
    This could tackle the issues identified under 7.
  9. Allow mediators and Authority members to make recommendations to parties about how the problem may be solved.
    Parties have 7 days to decide whether or not they agree and if they agree the recommendation(s) become binding.
  10. Allow the Employment Relations Authority to dismiss vexatious or frivolous claims. There will be is a right of appeal.
  11. Allow the Employment Relations Authority to penalise parties who do not attend investigation meetings and who file late claims without good reason.    The first change I get, but the second proposed change I do not.  Would it not be easier to just dismiss a late claim altogether?
  12. Removing reinstatement as a primary remedy as reinstatement is rarely practicable or reasonable. Reinstatement will still be available though, but where appropriate.
  13. Treating personal grievances which are not actively progressed as withdrawn.
    As long as notice is given by the ERA of such intention this seems a good move that should assist in clearing backlogs of dormant claims.
  14. Developing a code of professional ethics for employment advocates.
  15. Union access to workplaces after consent by the employer
    Consent however cannot be unreasonably withheld and would have to be for a lawful reason.
  16. Employers allowed communicating directly with staff during bargaining, including about terms of any settlement offer.
    I guess individual bargaining will still be prohibited.
  17. Cash for holiday time allowed for a week of holiday.
    Only employees will be able to request the change and although employers may decline the request without giving a reason, they can’t force an employee to accept cash in exchange for annual leave.
  18. Simplifying the way payment for sick leave, bereavement leave, public holidays and alternative holidays is calculated for employees that work irregular hours.
    The proposal is for the pay rate to be calculated by averaging the gross earnings for the preceding year or less.
  19. Allowing employers and employees to agree to transfer the observance of public holidays to another identified working day.
    This would enable people of non Christian faiths to take days off to enable them to observe different holy days.
  20. Proof of sickness or injury within 3 consecutive days of an employee taking sick leave, so long as the employee’s reasonable costs are covered.
    The employer would no longer need reasonable grounds to make the request.  I could foresee this causing practical problems.
  21. Increase (doubling) of penalties to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for employers who do not comply with the Holidays Act.
  22. Making the Employment Relations Authority more accountable and judicial in its conduct and decisions.
  23. Formalising the conduct of Authority investigations.
  24. Search and freeze orders to be issued by the Employment Court only.
  25. Allowing the Employment Relations Authority to remove matters to the Employment Court of its own motion as opposed to when a party requests such a move only.
  26. Right to cross examine witnesses during Authority investigations.
    This will make the Authority much more like a court, cases will inevitably take longer and will encourage more legal representation.  Effective cross examination will require professional involvement but at the same time I see it as a good thing that will end up serving justice.
  27. Allowing the Authority to consider whether minimum legal entitlements could be bargained away before they refer a matter to mediation.
  28. Preventing minimum entitlements being negotiated away in mediations. Entitlements such as minimum wage or holiday entitlements will still be allowed to be the subject of negotiation but not reduced below the legal minimum.  27 and 28 are related changes.
  29. Allowing a party to withdraw a claim in the Employment Court without affecting the claims of another party in the same proceeding.
  30. Allowing people between 16 and 18 to enter into binding agreements with their employers.
    Such agreements are currently subject to approval by a court.
  31. Giving legal definition to the role of Labour Inspectors to give them greater powers to manage complaints and support businesses to achieve compliance.
  32. Allowing Labour Inspectors to enter into enforceable agreements with employers so as to allow willing employers to avoid legal proceedings.
  33. Allowing Labour Inspectors to issue Improvement Notices similar to the notices of Health and Safety Inspectors.
  34. Allow for penalties and interest to be awarded in the case of long-standing and repeated non compliance with a demand notice(s) that require employers to comply with their obligations to pay wages and allowances.
  35. Allowing Labour Inspectors to seek a penalty action from the Authority where the employer has failed to provide a copy of an employment agreement.
  36. Increasing penalties.
    Double the maximum penalties to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for employers who do not comply with the requirements of the Employment Relations Act.
  37. Allowing the Employment Court to deal with pre-proceeding discovery regardless of whether the matter is or is intended to be brought before Authority or Employment Court.
    Discovery lies at the core of the justice system and this change is applauded as it stimulates better assessment of the strength of cases and justice on the basis of the facts.

Overall, I guess these changes can be applauded for they have the potential to bring back a balance that has been lost under labour and have to potential of more efficient and effective justice.


I guess John Key must have felt better of staying in Australia with all the heat going on: Rodney Hide and the Maori seats and on top of the smacking debate. New Zealand voted against “a smack as  part of good parental correction” being a criminal offence, whatever the media and even the pro and anti smacking are crying in the media. John Key took a series of proposals to Cabinet today following Friday’s referendum victory for opponents of the 2007 child discipline law change.

I am still wondering whether most of the people that voted no, despite my own preference for that, actually understood that it was not about whether a parental correctional smack should be allowed, but whether or not it should be classified as a criminal offence.

I again point out that it does not necessarily mean when you voted NO that you are PRO smacking. Could it maybe be that you do not see how a correctional smack warrants being classified as a criminal offence. Criminalizing should in my view be an “ultimum remedium” and therefore reserved for those acts that cannot be seen as anything else but a crime. The debate and referendum however has lost all its true perspective in any event as it is turned into a are you for “assaulting your children” or not. (That is the position of amongst others Sue Bradford and followers.) It is quite some distance from a “parental correctional smack” to “assaulting your children” I would imagine. It is also a distance from personally being a against a correctional smack to considering that it should be a criminal offence. he discussion and debate however seems to be polarized as FOR or AGAINST smacking. Subtle differences I admit but played out to their max to influence public opinion. 

All that aside, I am intrigued by John Key’s persistence in this matter. What is it that democratically elected members can sort of impose their own perspective or moral values this ignoring what the people in a democratic society want. They want the correctional smack out of the Crimes Act. Do Helen and mob have something on Key? The key to Key? Allegedly he would have said that “parents who lightly smack their children should not fear being treated like criminals, and that he would not ignore the referendum.”

I would like to point out that it is not how you are being treated, but the fundamental principle that despite of your treatment YOU ARE COMMITTING A CRIMINAL OFFENCE. the fact that you will not be treated as a criminal is hardly reassuring. Many high profile fraudsters end or ended up not being treated as a criminal, but does  that make them less of a criminal?  Many don’t get caught, therefore are not treated as a criminal. It’s all non-arguments.

The referendum is pretty clear in what it tried to answer. The outcomes are equally clear. We were asked whether a smack as part of good parental correction should be a criminal offence and we said NO.

Arguments that no one has been prosecuted are not compelling, arguments or proposals that would implicate police discretion are equally not convincing. The fact that there are many potential defences should you be prosecuted is of no importance either.
The simple fact remains that whenever a parent decides that a correctional smack is in its place – based on responsible parental values and experiences – and decides to follow up on that and gives his/her child a light smack on the bottom, that same parent needs to consider that he or she technically committed a crime. To illustrate:

Now suppose your neighbor we’ll call her “Auntie Sue”, sees what is happening, than she could report it as a crime and in Auntie Sue’s case you bet your bottom dollar that she will report that you are “assaulting” your child. There you are, things have settled down and you and your child are by now sitting on the couch reading from “Thomas the Tank Engine” or well whatever and there’s a police officer ringing your doorbell asking questions about a reported incident of assaulting your child, or equally bad, CYFS is doing the same. Regardless of whether you are prosecuted or not, you are investigated as a suspect of a crime that technically has been committed if this law remains unchanged. The mere follow up and questions are enough to make you feel as suspected to be a criminal and since you technically have committed an offence, you are.

Personally I can’t help but feeling that despite not changing the law “if it works” is an unconvincing approach, in fact a spineless approach. Gandhi once said: “Cowards can never be moral.”  And it shows.

Pragmatic arguments such as not wanting valuable parliamentary time being usurped by a renewed smacking debate are a blatant denial of democracy in the workings and also not a valid argument. Will we start taking criminal offences out of the Crimes Act an/or others “if they don’t work?”

Have Key and all those others before him forgotten that they are elected to REPRESENT the people and that it is our tax money that pays their bills and perks? A law was pushed through in 2007 that had no democratic support, Parliament, by allowing this law to pass, already ignored its voters, the people once. And now again? The referendum is to inform out politicians of our opinion, the elections are there to enforce our sentiments upon those we choose to represent us. These boys and girls in the Beehive are getting things mixed up. Parliamentarians are send to parliament every three years as representatives of their voters, they should therefore be adhering to what we want them to do not the other way around. And here we have a John Key, prior to the referendum already telling us that regardless of the outcome he will not change the law. And basically sticking to that position despite the outcomes. Have those politicians  forgotten that the overwhelming majority of New Zealand never wanted this law in the first place? No-one wanted a back-office “compromise” deal of John Key and Helen Clark and in any event, NO ONE PERMITTED THESE POLITICIANS TO GO AHEAD AN DO IT ANYWAY. An yet, here we see it being done twice!

Then again, try to place yourself in Key’s shoes: changing the law in accordance with the documented wishes of the people would mean losing face of course, cause how will you explain agreeing to this unwanted law change in the first place and subsequently changing it back. Step up John, and admit you made a mistake in 2007 and are now prepared to admit this and set the record straight. Now that would be the act of a REPRESENTATIVE. That would be a Parliament that represents and would justify the people to voluntarily comply with, because it represents the consensus of public opinion. TIME TO RETHINK THE BASICS I would say.

Ignoring the referendum results, is like seeing democracy die for the benefit of ELECTED politicians, that have become so power hungry, that they think they have it within their right to ignore those who elected them in the first place. If that is the case, we may as well stop pretending and admit that voting rights are no more than window dressing and keeping up a democratic myth so as to keep the population quiet and unaware that we are actually living under some form of dictatorship.

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More on smacking referendum: PM warned

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide has warned Prime Minister John Key of a public backlash if the government ignores the result of the controversial smacking referendum.

Snubbing the referendum result sends a message that politicians know what’s best for the people and that the government is running a “nanny state”, Hide wrote in a letter delivered to Key’s office on Friday.

In the sidebar it states that: John Key has said the law will not be changed back unless it can be shown that good parents are being prosecuted for light smacking.

If he really said that than I would be disappointed as apparently even the Prime Minister does not know the law. The matters are formulated straight forward in that a correctional smack is a criminal offense. The law does not make this distinction and regardless of how you look at it: well willing parents that want to have even the “light smack” as part of their parental toolbox will need to consider whether or not they are willing to commit a criminal offense.

Besides that, WHO is appointed to determine whether or not a smack is to be considered a light correctional smack that does not justify prosecution or falls within the boundaries of prosecution required? There are no clear guidelines there and personal opinion may well start playing a role in that decision.

In all democratic fairness, the provision as standing in Section 59 should not have been there in the first place. I would have to agree with Mr Hide here.