Wednesday, June 27, 2018

As Housing Prices Soar, New Zealand Tackles a Surge in Homelessness

New Zealand has the highest homelessness rate among the wealthy nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Yale University study found last year, though it noted that definitions of homelessness vary by country. Social workers here say the country’s homeless — 1 percent of the population, according to a comprehensive study from a New Zealand university — increasingly include people with jobs.

More here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Kahu huruhuru: Feathered Māori Cloak Bestowed on Chiefs and Dignitaries to Convey Prestige, Respect, and Power

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has caused a stir with a striking image of her walking the halls of Buckingham Palace swathed in a traditional Māori cloak during this week’s Commonwealth heads of government meeting.
The prime minister wore a Kahu huruhuru; a Māori cloak adorned with feathers and bestowed on chiefs and dignitaries to convey prestige, respect and power, said Mark Sykes, guardian of Māori special collections at Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand.

Sykes said Ardern’s choice was a proud moment for Māori around the world. “Cloaks are worn for warmth, protection and to symbolise your status and mana [power],” said Sykes. “I think it shows how she is portraying herself as a leader of Māori, of all of New Zealand, of everyone. It made me feel proud. She wore it well. She wore it so well.”

On social media in New Zealand the striking image went viral, with many people commenting that the picture captured the inversion of traditional gender roles; a female world leader wearing a powerful cloak while pregnant and representing her country.
More from The Guardian here... 

If you're thinking this is a moment of cultural appropriation, read this BBC piece for a broader understanding.

While traditionally worn only within the Maori community, the cloaks can now be seen also on the shoulders of non-Maori New Zealanders – as a gift to a politician or dignitary for a special occasion.
Ms Ardern’s korowai would fall into that very category and Mr Olsen-Reeder cautions not to see it as a case of cultural appropriation. 

“Given the premise of that gift to her, what she’s doing is entirely appropriate. That particular korowai has been given to her to signify her as a really important part of New Zealand culture.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

NZ Prime Minister Pregnant

It's an elegant circle that starts with NZ being the first country in the world in which all women had the right to vote...continues with Ardern's election as prime minister in 2017... and now this.

Why does it matter? For heaven's sake, pregnant women used to have to go into confinement. Now they can run countries! (Plus, stay-at-home dads.)

“I am not the first woman to multitask. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby,” Ardern said in a news conference Friday. “We are going to make this work, and New Zealand is going to help us raise our first child.”

Via Ardern's twitter...
We thought 2017 was a big year! This year we’ll join the many parents who wear two hats. I’ll be PM & a mum while Clarke will be “first man of fishing” & stay at home dad. There will be lots of questions (I can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!) but for now bring on 2018

Via Jezebel...
Ardern will take six weeks maternity leave, then return to her post. To those who have questioned her ability to work and be a new mom, Ardern said, “None of them detected I had pretty bad morning sickness for three months of establishing the government.” Hell yeah.

And finally, via BBC...
Ms Ardern, 37, is now set to be the second elected world leader to give birth while in office - and the first to do so in almost 30 years. In 1990, Benazir Bhutto gave birth to a daughter while serving as Pakistan's prime minister - in what was reported to be a first for an elected leader, rather than royal families.

For more on NZ's impressive record on women's rights and a video of Ardern's announcement, click here.