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THE CITY AND YOU


David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

24 November 2017, 8:11 AM

Thanks, Max

I can think of plenty of other invasive species - cats, dogs, sheep, cows, deer, goats, even humans, and each of those, I would suggest, is capable of doing far more damage or harm to the environment than bantams. And yet, here we are.

Wilding trees (imported pine varieties mainly) are becoming a menace to farmers as the conditions in New Zealand are so favourable that in the right weather and they spread like there's no tomorrow. Farmers and the Department of Conservation are spending millions of the dollars in the South Island to try and stop their spread, not to protect native species, but to protect their farming practices for animals and crops which are not native to this country.

It has been suggested the wilding pines are just the tip of the iceberg, as other exotics like imported household trees are just beginning to spread.

Some experts suggest they are wasting the money and they would be better to try and manage their spread rather than eradication as the trees could help us meet our carbon commitments, while some ecologists even suggest we don't really know what constitutes the "native" environment in the South Island as it has changed so much over the centuries - in fact it is now believed Maori may have even burned native forest and replaced species in some parts of the South Island before Europeans arrived.

To cite an urban example, Kaiapoi River's native plant species are being killed by the infiltration of salt water and the scientist who has been studying the river suggests locals may just have to except that salt water is the future and exotic species resistant to or which thrive in salt water may be inevitably replace the native species.

Locals blame it on irrigation, but the scientist suggests this is only part of the problem and it has as much to do with how humans changed the river decades ago, the earthquake has changed the river and the changing climate - rising sea level and lack of rain in recent summers - http://www.ncnews.co.nz/digital-edition/?edition=HUR_2017_11_23.

Back to bantams -  they are small, easy to manage and what better creature to teach children how to look after others. It didn't do me any harm as a child.

Thanks for your feedback

David

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

24 November 2017, 9:18 AM

In regards to your term "invasive import" - what does that make me? Am I an invasive import?

If you go back 170 years none of my ancestors had ever stepped foot in New Zealand, so this would clearly make me an "invasive import".

On the other hand, I was born in New Zealand, both of my children were born in New Zealand, both of my parents were born in New Zealand and all four of my grandparents were born in New Zealand. I have never stepped in another country, so I don't belong anywhere else.

So, do I not have the right to call myself "native born"?

I respect Maori to reserve the right to use tangata whenua for themselves - as pakeha we can be "tangata tiriti".

If I have the right to be considered "native born", why does that right not also extend to bantams, sheep, cows, deer, goats, cats, dogs - even possums?

Max Thomson's profile picture
Posts: 64

25 November 2017, 11:07 AM

  Thanks David. You illustrate well how complex the issue is. What time scale are we talking about? Our children/grandchildren's perspective or long term sustainability? 

  Long term the future of cities probably doesn't matter but it sure does for our grandchildren!

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

25 November 2017, 10:38 AM

One of the questions offered to discussion in the course, The City and You" is "Why do cities matter for the economy?"

In forming a new government recently, New Zealand's new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters have declared "capitalism has failed", because it has left hundreds of thousands of children (in a country of 4.7 million) "in homes with not enough to survive" and there are many homeless (Jacinda said that - Winston's comments focused on the regions, of course!).
I have no real interest in the economy, because I believe too often it is used to advantage the few. We talk about the "trickle down effect", but increasingly a new generation of economists are confirming what some of us already knew - the "trickle down effect" doesn't exist.

So the question "why do cities matter for the economy?" is, in my view the wrong question as it implies the economy is central.
Turn the question around and ask "why does the economy matter for cities?" And I mean cities in the sense of "the people" and particularly the most vulnerable.
The question really is, as course tutor Richard Florida has alluded to, how do we make cities work for the vulnerable, for the disadvantaged? How do we ensure no-one is left behind?
In my city of Christchurch, we have a unique opportunity following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes to rebuild a city that works for the vulnerable, for the disadvantaged. To ensure no-one is left behind.

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

25 November 2017, 5:38 PM

"One of the greatest threats to both human and nature's rights is the subjugation of democracy to corporate interest."

Golriz Ghahraman, Green MP

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

25 November 2017, 6:37 PM

Another question posed in the City and You is: Why and how does the place you live (city, neighborhood) affect your job prospects, career opportunities, and life in general?

In New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, the average house price is now about $NZ1 million, but the medium household (or family) income in the city is about $NZ80,000.
In my city of Christchurch, the second largest, the average house price is more than $NZ400,000 and rent for a family home is typically about $500 a week and the medium household income is about $NZ70,000.
Christchurch's situation has been made worse by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 which left a housing shortage and around 7000 homes were in the residential "red zone" where the government offered to buy people out due to the extent of the damage.
House prices are cheaper in other parts of New Zealand, but unemployment is often higher and wages lower in other towns and cities.
Christchurch and Auckland are two of only five urban centres in New Zealand (the others are the cities of Hamilton and Tauranga and the tourist town of Queenstown) where the population is growing and is expected to continue to grow over the next 30 years, so the other places don't have the same opportunities - though our new government has promised to invest in the "provinces".
In Christchurch, families are increasing moving out to the neighbouring towns where housing has, until recently, been cheaper.
But this results in commuting. There is no commuter rail and the bus service doesn't always link people with their places of work - the earthquakes caused business to retreat from the central city and now businesses are now located in different parts of the city and in neighbouring towns.
Must people commute by car and most without passengers, though young people increasing say they want to use popular transport.
The previous government's strategy was to invest in the roading network, building motorways and expressways, while the price of petrol keeps going up, leaving people with ever increasing commuting costs and the commuting times also impact on quality of life.
The new government has pledged to invest in commuter rail, but there will still be the challenge of linking people to their places of work, unless businesses can be encouraged to return to the central city to locations along the train routes - there will only be two train routes, one from the north and one from the southwest.
Perhaps some effort needs to be made to encourage families to return to inner city living.
There hasn't always been this disparity - rents or the cost of servicing mortgage used to be less than one-third of a family's income, but now it is generally more than half and sometimes three-quarters of a family's income.
It has often been said the "kiwi dream" is to own your own home or "slice of paradise", but increasingly some commentators are saying a whole generation of New Zealanders may never be homeowners.
The minimum wage in New Zealand is $NZ15.75 per hour, though the new government is planning to increase this to $NZ16.50 per hour next year. The living wage in New Zealand is thought to be $20.20.
So the question is, how do we get the balance right? How do we attract creative people with affordable housing in sync with incomes, where there are good job prospects and career opportunities and a good life balance?
How can we encourage families to return to live in the central city as we rebuild our city after a natural disaster?

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

25 November 2017, 6:39 PM

Another question posed in the City and You is: Why and how are cities important for innovation?

The recent 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in my city of Christchurch, New Zealand, have resulted in many creative ideas and innovations where people have been encouraged to be part of the regeneration process.

There have been "gap fillers" popping up all over the place as people create community spaces where buildings once stood. In Christchurch 606 hectares of residential land was made "red zone" and the government purchased it off residents and now people are sharing ideas for how the land could be used.

These include restoring it to wetlands, creating parks with walkways or dog parks, sports grounds, an artificial lake for aquatic sports, new business activities, different types of residential housing, food forests and low intensive rural activity.

When this happens people feel empowered and have a real sense of ownership and belonging.

Equally, there have been times when the views of ordinary citizens have been ignored, as government and corporate interest been rushed through against community interest, or government overruled the Christchurch City Council's extensive community consultation.

Naturally when this happens, people feel disempowered and disenchanted with the process.

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

26 November 2017, 1:23 PM

In the latest exercise, we asked to describe our global city:

Christchurch, New Zealand - devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Population about 363,000, the second largest city in a country of 4.7 million.

The central city is a shadow of its former self due to the removal of quake damaged buildings. But residents have taken over these spaces in creative ways as "gap fillers" creating community spaces.

The local economy is driven by the rebuild, tourism which is returning the city - though we still lack large accommodation facilities, and servicing the rural hinterland.

Much of the employment in the rebuild and rural sector has been filled by migrant workers, who are often exploited by corporations and local people miss out on the economic benefits.

The primary industries still dominate in New Zealand, with the vast majority of production exported. This creates conflict between urban and rural areas, as much of the expansion and innovation with large scale intensive dairy farming has been at the expense of the environment. In defence, the agricultural sector likes to point out that our urban rivers are the most polluted in the country and while this is true, urban rivers account for just 1% of the geography of our rivers and are largely spring-fed by groundwater which ultimately comes from the large alpine and foothills rivers.

Increasingly these large scale dairy farms are foreign owned - a billionaire from Shanghai for example owns 29 dairy farms (including 13 in our region of Canterbury), which used to be owned by 29 families.

I was involved in creating a conversation about our rivers, both urban and rural, in our region which is now the subject of a feature film - "Seven Rivers Walking" - see http://sevenrivers.nz/index.php/about/.

On the arts and culture side, we have events like the World Buskers Festival which draws in street artists from around the world, we have art galleries and museums in our city and we have many accomplished artists particularly in our seaside suburbs in the east like New Brighton - though with the relatively small population, many struggle to make a living.

On the music scene, Christchurch produces some of New Zealand's best artists.

At the street level, much of the shopping these days is done in suburban, indoor malls. An exception is in the seaside suburb of New Brighton, with the local outdoor mall having had many of the buildings demolished due to quake damage and shopping is now largely cafes, second-hand shops and the weekly market - though the weekly market is actually growing in popularity, especially in the summer.

A relatively recent phenomenon is farmers' markets which have grown in popularity since the earthquakes, as for a time some of the supermarkets were closed. These markets are an opportunity for small-scale, and often alternative, farmers to sell their wares.

Much of the city street-scape in the east of the city still bares the scars of the earthquakes, with many of the roads unlikely to be repaired anytime soon. Some parts of the east continue to resemble a war zone.

On the sporting front, Christchurch boasts some of New Zealand's top sportspeople - but we lack top class sporting facilities. Rugby is New Zealand's number one sport and our local Crusaders rugby team won its international competition Super Rugby for a record 8th time this year, but Christchurch doesn't get to host top international rugby matches due to the lack of a ground.

This year, our top shot putter Tom Walsh won a gold medal at the world championships in London, in spite of not having a proper venue to train in his home city.

Our biggest challenges are affordable housing, public transport, the environment, water quality and climate change, which has seen three years of drought followed by flooding this year.

Growing inequality has led to the term "the working poor" where apparently middle-class families with two working parents have had to visit food banks due to the growing costs of living.

This has been in part due to the earthquakes, but also the greed of landlords and property owners who have taken advantage of the lack of affordable housing.

Suicide in our region is the highest in the country, as funding for mental health services has not kept up with demand, as local people cope with the realities of our post-earthquake environment.

Much of our post-quake experiences mirrors the accounts given in books like "Disaster Capitalism" by Naomi Klein and "A Paradise Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit.

I can only but imagine how challenging the experiences are people in countries like Haiti and the Philippines, which lack the infrastructure and the insurance facilities, we take for granted in this country, when disaster strikes.

Despite the challenges, there is plenty of optimism and hope. There are plenty of creative people and there is investment in the city. We just need to ensure that investment is injected in a way which benefits people, rather than corporate interests, and encourages their creativity.

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

05 December 2017, 7:28 PM

How is global urbanization occurring today, and how and why does it differ from the process of urbanization in the past?

Why do some global cities grow and prosper, while others do not?

What is meant by the phrase "the world is spiky" and why does it matter for cities and the world writ large?

These are week two questions - the week two readings are on my Bantam Theology page.

David Hill's profile picture
Posts: 79

09 December 2017, 9:02 AM

What makes a city creative?

You create a creative city by attractive and nurturing talented people. And you do that by putting in place the infrastructure and technology, creating communities where people want to live and you need to tolerant and accepting of diversity. Above all, we need to recognise that everyone has talent and something to contribute - we just need the space and the opportunity.