Tag Archives: Politics

Save the Hundertwasser Gallery in Whangarei

I am seeking people to support a letter to the Whangarei District Councillors that are attempting to kill of the Hundertwasser Art Gallery Project in a council meeting tomorrow.  Please read this description and details are below.

A long planned (and debated) gallery designed by the late international Artist Hundertwasser is in danger of being dumped by the Whangarei District Council after some Councillors have put forward a proposal to remove it from the annual plan.  Their logic in doing this is that people have not been consulted about the project, yet they are trying to remove it from a document that will go for public consultation.

This is a project that offers huge financial and cultural opportunity for Whangarei, it has been supported by the last two mayoral candidates, the two sitting northland MPs Phil Heatley and Shane Jones (from both sides of the house) support the project.  Financial analysis of the project by Deloitte supports the councils position. A recent poll run by the local newspaper shows significant popular support for the project. And yet at a council meeting tomorrow a number of Councillors will attempt to vote this project out of the plan.

The total cost of the project is $13 million, of this the council has agreed to fund $8 million and a further $5 million will be raised seperately. $2 million of this amount has already being raised for the project.

One Councillor has stated that this money would be better spent on roads. To give a comparison the Wellsford to Puhoi road project is estimated to cost $760 million dollars, and the recently finished Te Matau a Pohe bridge cost $32 million dollars.

Another Councillor is worried this project will leave the WDC in a similar state to the Kaipara Council after that council misinvested in a sewerage project. The original budget for that project was $35 million and the total cost became $60 million. This is a small project compared to this and the construction of an art gallery is very predictable compared to a major sewerage system.

Spending $8 million on an Cultural project that will make Whangarei an international destination is a prudent decision and the current motion to cancel the project is unwise.

More about the project can be read here: http://www.wdc.govt.nz/FacilitiesandRecreation/Town-Basin/Pages/Hundertwasser-Art-Centre.aspx

If you would like your name attached to a letter that I am sending to the council to reject the motion being put forward by the Councillors: “That the Hundertwasser project not be included in this year’s annual plan and that staff be instructed to remove all reference to the Hundertwasser project in forthcoming workshops and annual plan drafts.” as being undemocratic and unwise can you please email me barnaby@projectfreerange.com tonight.

I will send the email first thing in the morning.  Can you please include your name and any fancy sounds positions you might hold. Also be great if you could say whether you grew up or had a connection to Whangarei.

 

 

 

Voices for Equity in the Profession.

It is the last week to provide feedback to a set of important gender equity guidelines being developed in Australia for the architecture profession.

The commentary and resources published by Parlour and their researchers are formidable, and their conference Transform earlier this year was the most engaging I had been to in a long time. Parlour is probably the most important and articulate voice in the profession right now, and they want to talk to you.

It’s immediately clear that a great deal of care, experience, and intelligence has gone into these guidelines. I believe Neph Wake and Naomi Stead are to thank for the hard yards in producing these documents (please correct me if I’m wrong), which is yet another significant outcome of the parent project ‘Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership’ funded by the Australian Research Council through the Linkage Projects scheme, made so much more accessible thanks to Parlour, edited by the “effective” Justine Clark. (This wonderfully cryptic and completely deserved title was recently used to introduce Justine).

They explain:

The Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice are being developed to help architectural workplaces facilitate change towards a more equitable profession. Aimed both at employers and employees, the guidelines will address the specificities of small, medium, large and regional practice. They will provide hints and tips, and guides to thinking on a range of issues relevant to the architecture profession in Australia today.

As tailored as these are for the culture of the architecture profession, these really have relevance to all workplaces, so if these issues ring true, regardless of your professional penchant, I’d recommend a good sit down with these.

The ten Draft Guidelines address:

1. Pay equity: Moving towards equal pay between women and men in architecture.

2. Leadership: How to promote and support women to senior roles in architecture.

3. Recruitment: Equitable recruitment and hiring diverse talent in architecture.

4. Mentorship: Mentors, sponsors and career champions in architecture.

5. Negotiation: Negotiating flexible working conditions in architecture.

6. Long hours: Challenging the long-hours culture in architecture.

7. Part-time: Meaningful part-time work in architecture.

8. Flexibility: Making flexible patterns work in architecture.

9. Career break: Returning from parental leave and other career breaks in architecture.

10. Registration: Supporting women who choose to register in as architects.

11… Parlour also offers suggestions for other areas they haven’t already addressed.

 

If you can, these drafted guidelines should be devoured at length, they are highly addictive and very readable. Even if you take a crack at two or three of the issues close to you heart, it’s worth offering your contribution this way as the online form below allows specific feedback to each individual theme, so every bit counts.

You can download the Draft Guidelines here, and link to the feedback form on that page. Following consultation, the finalised Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice will be published later this year.

www.archiparlour.org

A thought

NZ Politics.  I can’t help but be amazed by how badly the reconfiguration of Aucklands Council system is being managed.  Ultimately it is probably a good idea, but the speed and manner in which Hide and Key are facillitating this process is terrible and abusive of their power.   I just don’t understand why Key is letting such bad publicity affect his government so early.  My prediction number one is that he has done a deal with Hide to let them have their way with Auckland if they shut up about Climate Change and let National return to some middle ground on this.  Notably Hide and the other Act MPs have stopped going to the select committee meetings about the current climate change review.

I am also really suprised with how quiet and obidient the Maori Party is being about the removal of Maori Representation from the new Greater Auckland Council.  I can only think that they too have been promised something big to keep them quiet and this would have to be the repeal of the Seabed and Foreshore Legislation.  This would be classic Key, he gets to make seemingly pro-environmental and pr0-maori gestures which in reality are weak and don’t change the reality of the alternative agenda they are quietly running behind the scenes.

A long, slow descent into hell

I’m currently living in Sri Lanka at the moment, and witnessing the continuation of this beautiful islands tragic history.   Colombo is a virtual police state now controlled by what is effectively a military dictatorship.

Any sane analysis of the recent history here makes taking sides a senseless exercise.  Much like the Bush/Bin Laden relationship, this is a game played by violent boys upon people of various ethnic backgrounds.   Given the complete banning of journalists anywhere near the current warzone and the state control of the media here it is of little use trying to work what is actually going on at the moment.  It seems truth reveals itself in historical glimpses.   The tigers may be a doomed force now, but a whole generation has been born and raised in this conflict.  They have lived lifes of forced migrations, refugee camps, propaganda as education,  and life looking down the barrel of guns from both behind and infront.

I had a moment of horror a few nights ago when I was taken aside by a young soldier in standard procedure when roads are completely cleared to make way for fast moving convoys of vips.  As the noisy collection of bikes, army trucks and black tinted SUVs emerged around the corner this friendly young soldier with gun pointing nonchalantly in my direction casually removed the safety from his gun.  So for a few sweaty moments I had my first experience of a fully loaded automatic weapon being pointed at me with no safety on.  As soon as the convoy passed the soldier put the safety back, smiled and let us be on our way.

With only limited ability to make sense of current events it falls to artists and writers to create meaning and hope.  I point you to a well written piece in The Guardian by Sri Lankin novelist Romesh Gunesekera.

The other night, in London’s Nehru Centre, I heard the Bengali poet Sunil Gangopadhyay recite a powerful poem against the warped beliefs we use to excuse our sometimes atrocious behaviour. It made me think: what should I believe in now? What can I believe in? What must I believe in?

So, here is a list to start with:

– I must believe that the fighting will be over tomorrow and there will be no more killing, indiscriminate or discriminate.

– I must believe that those who have the power will ensure that future generations will not be brought to this point of suffering again.

– I must believe that everyone believes murder is wrong.

– I must believe that aid will flow into the country and that it will go wholly and directly to those who have suffered most.

– I must believe that money for war will be converted into money for peace and reconstruction, wherever it may come from.

– I must believe that a military victory will not lead to triumphant jingoism.

– I must believe that all those who have been trained only to fight will be found gainful civilian employment.

– I must believe that the ambitions of the military will not grow ever larger.

– I must believe that a just and democratic society nurtures and protects all its people and treats them equally.

– I must believe that dissent will not be punished.

– I must believe that the press and media will be free and fair and brave.

– I must believe that journalists will not be intimidated.

– I must believe that good will is stronger than ill will.

– I must believe that good leaders are honourable people who will always place the interests of their people before the interests of themselves.

– I must believe that the young will learn from the mistakes of the elders.

– I must believe that we will not be fooled again, wherever we are and whoever we are.

– I must believe in the human capacity for compassion and reconciliation.

– I must believe all wrongs will be righted.

– I must believe that in words we will find what in fury we cannot.

But must I also believe – as leaders on all sides seem to – that the end justifies the means? Does it, really?”