Number Eight | August 2011
SEVERAL thousand homes in South Dunedin may become uninhabitable. Recent predictions* suggest a 1m increase in the mean sea level over the next 90 years. [University of Otago, School of Surveying 2011]
However, well before that time, the rising water table would contribute to mould and damp in houses, respiratory infections, and other health impacts affecting families’ lives and employment.
In some parts of South Dunedin today, the water table is only 25-40cm below ground!
Any real sea level increase would immediately impact upon the robustness of houses with wooden piles and poor insulation.
As we begin to think through the implications we need to understand the people who live in South Dunedin. This population is not the same, and does not behave in the same ways, as the residents of Maori Hill, Mosgiel, or Roslyn.
Let’s take a look at what we know:
• Nearly 60% of South Dunedin households had a total income of less than $20,000, compared with a median of 29.6% for the whole of Dunedin (and that includes the students in the North East Valley). Household savings are likely to be low to non-existent, people more vulnerable to loan-sharks, and to the winter food-or-heat dilemmas that people living under the poverty line face.
• 60% of South Dunedin residents aged 15 and over receive income support, 33% of South Dunedin residents receive super/veterans’ benefits.
• 49% of the households comprise one person.
• 64% are renters.
• And 39% of South Dunedin residents have no vehicle.
As seas rise, we might then wonder whether:
• South Dunedin landlords will have any incentive in the short-term to keep their dwellings in good repair …
• Renters will assume that they can relocate easily when they won’t be able to (at least not in bulk) …
• Owner occupiers will experience the “Christchurch problem”– the value of houses being sold on the flat will drop just as the price for replacements increase due to demand. As South Dunedin residents are unlikely to have any additional financial wherewithal to cover this gap, their housing choices may actually worsen …
• Landlords (of new housing in other areas) will charge higher rents to get their desired return on investment…
• Older people holding on to their homes to ensure they have something of value to leave to family members may give up the struggle and transition into residential aged care earlier …
• Those who live in South Dunedin are aware of this possible impact of climate change on them …
• And even then, whether they will be interested – particularly the renters who will assume they can relocate easily.
Moreover, as initiative after initiative to address homelessness has shown, simply relocating people to new suburbs does nothing to resolve the underlying social problems, and it may even exacerbate them.
The opening of the Otago Corrections Facility just out of Milton brought considerable new populations - families related to the staff and to the inmates – into Milton. These two populations have not integrated into that community seamlessly.
Yet in contrast, the recreation of ghettos – like the council housing estates and tower blocks of 1960s Britain – is equally, if not more, problematic.
The issues to watch out for, then, are these:
• Simple market principles of supply and demand having an enormously distorted impact on those with the income and life profiles of many of those living in South Dunedin;
• Living conditions on the flat may actually worsen as landlords let their stock run down;
• Landlords may also be quite demanding of market returns for any new stock;
• Moving the population may create additional social problems in their new communities of residence;
• Residents not interested in the problem as they may think it won’t affect them.
The good news is that there is time to resolve these issues. But maybe not as much time as we all thought. Planning Dunedin’s response will require careful thought, a good head start, and very high levels of collaboration between those involved. It’s probably time to start talking about it now.
The announcement of the official overall CPI increase of 5.3% in one year sounds bad enough. For low income people the news is even worse. Food, transport and power prices were the major drivers of the increase, all well over 7%, and the worst in 21 years.
The overall inflation figure is brought down by the goods that are falling in price. Sadly, these aren’t much help to people on benefits and low incomes. They’re not major consumers of big screen TVs, new cars, and new homes.
And it just gets worse; overseas speculators are already pushing the Kiwi dollar higher as they look forward to almost-guaranteed profits once the Reserve Bank decrees an interest rate rise. Bad for our exporters; bad for lower-income people with debts and mortgages.
The Government raised benefits and GRI by 2% at the time of the GST increase. More is undoubtedly needed.
Laura Black, Chief Executive
Recent Mission News
We helped people join together to celebrate Matariki-Puaka from start to finish.
The rising of the Pleiades (Matariki) and appearance of the star Rigel (Puaka) in June mark the beginning of the Maori New Year.
At the beginning of Matariki-Puaka, children and teachers from our Early Learning Centre visited the Approach Community Learning campus at Lookout Point for a get-together and to make and play purerehua (bullroarers). These traditional instruments make a loud, deep whirring sound to announce and greet the New Year. Tamariki worked together with Approach students and tutors in a day of fun and learning.
Approach marked the close of Matariki with a hangi and celebration on 6 July. Approach learners who were graduating from their 26-week course were presented with their certificates of achievement.
Pupils from the neighbouring Calton Hill School joined in the celebration, performing waiata (picture) and enjoying the kai.
“We have a very a close and supportive community at Approach and it is always nice to celebrate such things,” Approach Manager John-Crawford Smith says.
“Some of our learners haven’t had much experience of educational success, so occasions like this are important as well as enjoyable.”
It’s now more than three months since the new Middleton Road Community Centre was launched with a successful open day (picture).
The Mission’s Main Office (including administration, fundraising, and IT functions, and Rev Siosifa Pole’s parish office) and the Community & Social Services section moved to the Centre at end-March and are now successfully using the extra space and facilities available.
“Our objective was so much more than cutting costs,” Laura Black says, “although it is good to be able to divert accommodation costs into services.
“Our combined vision is to create a hub of teen and family oriented services that will serve the southern suburbs of Dunedin.”
The first phase is complete: the former Corstorphine School has been successfully converted into a centre for community groups. In addition to the Mission, Pacific Trust Otago, Rock Solid (Straight-Up Trust) and the American Modular Group are running activities.
All these organisations are also working together in a user group of tenants, strengthening their links with each other and the community.
“It’s great we can help ensure these valuable resources can go on serving their communities, even after their lives as school buildings,” Laura says.
The MRCC has 1 large (classroom sized) and 1 small meeting room available to rent in office hours to community groups, for a nominal rental. Contact Mission admin on 466 4600 for details, or to arrange inspection.
The Mission helped celebrate prisoners’ success at a graduation ceremony for the Kaupapa Maori Storybook Dads programme at the Otago Corrections Facility (Milton) on 23 June. This programme was jointly run by the Mission and A3Kaitaiki, in a nationwide first.
Along with the prisoners and their families / whanau, there were Tutors, Mission Chair Joy Clark, CE Laura Black, our Approach Practice Leader, Charles Pearce, A3K Kaitiaki representatives and the Department of Corrections’ programme co-ordinator.
In Kaupapa Maori Storybook Dads, prisoners read children's books with a specific Maori theme which is recorded onto a DVD which along with the book is sent home. This is a way of having Dad still involved and visible to their tamariki. Literacy and kaupapa Maori underpin the programme, enabling growth for prisoners and their whanau.
The graduation was a happy event, incorporating the appropriate tikanga Maori for such an important occasion. For the first time, prisoners’ whanau were able to attend.
Charles Pearce says “It was really great to see the excitement of the kids as they met their Dads, and to see the genuine family involvement shown.”
Approach Community Learning is commencing a pilot research project which aims to harness the ‘wisdom of crowds’ for clients’ benefit.
The $48,000 Crowdsourcing project was confirmed at the end of June. Researchers will ask a wide range of people throughout the Mission: “will things get better or worse three months, and twelve months ahead?” The results will be collated together to get the crowd’s predictions, and then to track accuracy.
‘Wisdom of crowds’ theory holds that a truly independent group of people asked the same question can produce answers (collated together) that are better than could have been made by any single member of the group. In fact, many predictions are uncannily accurate.
Recent and very welcome confirmed support includes –
for our Home Support work with vulnerable older people.
to make play areas at our Early Learning Centre more available for all-weather use.
for Edible Gardens, to help educate children about healthy eating and gardening.
with a major grant, funding 10 Support & Advocacy and Child & Social Services initiatives that would otherwise have to be funded by drawing down Mission reserves.
for a new Recovery and Renewal initiative to improve prisoners’ and their families’ post-release experience, building on the Mission’s proven success with prisoners at the Otago Corrections Facility, and strengthening our working relationship with Article 3 Kaitiaki Ltd.
(Remember; the Mission does not accept funding from gaming (‘pokies’) trusts because of the harm they do our community.)
The Mission has opened another new initiative for Dunedin families.
The Hub is a cosy and friendly place in South Dunedin where families who have children from pre-birth to six years old can have a place to meet other parents
Organisations that have services for young families can get together there and work together to coordinate the services that families need.
Through the Hub, families can access six core services including ante-natal; Well Child – Tamariki Ora; early childhood education; parenting information, education and support; home visiting; and supported referrals to off-site services such as general practitioners.
The Hub’s co-ordinator, Christine Thomas, says “Parenting is a complex job so we aim to help parents understand the roles and responsibilities of relevant agencies, know which services they can contact for help, and how to be referred to the most appropriate agency.
“I’m enjoying welcoming a range of families with children from pre-birth up to six years old to the Hub house”
APPROACH COMMUNITY LEARNING
Restart Your Learning!
Adult Learning • Youth Training • Family Learning • Prisoner Education • OSCAR holiday programmes
us TODAY at 177 Mornington Road, Dunedin
Phone 487 7959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CHILD & FAMILY SERVICES
Support for Families & Children
Early Learning Centre • 20 Free hours for 3 & 4 year olds • Edible Gardens • Wise Up Walk Tall
us TODAY at 11a Wesley Street, Dunedin
Phone 466 3223 or email email@example.com
COMMUNITY & SOCIAL SERVICES
Advocacy & Support
Arahina Community House (tel 489 5273) • Home Support • Support & Advocacy Service • The Hub Community Support (tel 466 3407) • SPAN Caversham Social Group
Contact us TODAY on 466 4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Methodist Mission has been serving the Dunedin community since 1890.
We are a social service agency of Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa, the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The vision of the Methodist Mission is of a fair, safe, caring and sustainable society where every citizen is valued and respected and enjoys equal opportunity to lead a fulfilled life. We promote social justice through partnerships that strengthen families and build fair and safe communities. In partnership with the network of Methodist social services agencies throughout Aotearoa, ours is a commitment to Creating Cycles of Hope®.
The Methodist Mission relies
upon the generosity of donors to help us maintain and develop our services.
If you would like to know how a donation could make a difference please contact Laura Black, the Chief Executive (email email@example.com)
Main Office Phone 03 466 4600
P O Box 2391
South Dunedin 9044