A Hawkes Bay student film maker wins a national award.


National media competition winner Ali Beal has been dubbed "a fire cracker" by her screen production lecturers at EIT.

In fact, she's more like the entire boxful of fireworks - colourful, theatrical and delighting in delivering the unexpected.

Nudging 40, Ali has tried teacher training, studied opera singing, worked at dark tourism attractions and thrown herself into local amateur theatre. Now she is harnessing her wide-ranging life experiences and talents in studying for EIT's Diploma in Screen Production.

"For the first time in years I feel this is so where I am supposed to be," she enthuses.

Ali recently won the senior section of the inaugural Media Machine competition run by Maori Television, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc and Awa Transmedia Studios.

Her entry, a short video entitled The Liberator, centres on a professional assassin who delivers a body part as proof that she has completed an assignment.

"I like telling stories and I like its shock value," she says of the three-minute movie. "You need fresh air passed over you, to think outside the box. It's uncomfortable, but then life's not comfortable."

Performing is definitely in the blood. She got involved in school productions at Taradale High School and, blessed with a great singing voice, she completed EIT's Diploma in Performing Arts.

As a young mum, Ali joined a local improv theatre group which led to a break at Hawke's Bay's CornEvil in Longlands Road where she orchestrated haunted horror corn maze shows. Three years later, she added Napier Prison's DeadHill Haunted tours to her CV.

Then, having discovered local theatre, this award-winning drama director wanted to look at stage craft in a different way.

"I've been waiting to get onto the screen production programme for four years, but it was only this year that everything fell into place."

Ali wondered how she'd relate to her younger classmates but says having a sense of humour helps.

"I am the mum," she laughs of her role in the class. A more techno-savvy student is helping her master her iPad, which, together with Bay All Day clothing and a trip to the Māori Television studios in Auckland, make up her prize-winning package.

"Spending a day with everyone at Māori TV last week was amazing - especially my "mentor for the day" reporter Aroha Treacher. I realised just how lucky I am to find this screen production programme. It gives me a new vehicle for all my creative passions."

As to the future, Ali is in at least three minds.

"I want to keep doing local theatre but also feel the pull of a national stage. I'm also interested in learning how to make documentaries, to start telling stories here in Hawke's Bay that might have a wider appeal."

The ideal scenario, she says, would be to have her base in Hawke's Bay, where she feels most at home, while still coming and going to accommodate the demands of an eclectic creative career.

Hawkes Bays Asians in the Bay awards gains a best secondary student category.


A Best Asian Secondary School Student category has been added to the Asians in the Bay awards.

The awards are into their 3rd year, and will again recognise Professional Individuals and Asian businesses that are making a difference in the community. Groups and organisations that have helped promote their own particular culture and contributed significantly to the Hawkes Bay economy will also be acknowledged.

Multicultural Association Hawke's Bay President Sook Hua Lee says "The awards have been extremely well received by the Asian community and will step up another notch with the addition of a category that will recognise our brightest students. Many young people from the Asian community perform very well academically and the committee felt it was time this was recognised at the awards."

Sook Hua Lee says "The awards promote unity, cooperation and the creation of a culture of excellence within Asian business and professional communities. The awards also give nominees a chance to stand back and have a good look at the way their business or organisation is operating. A nomination could be the beginning of change in the future."

Awards will be presented in six categories; best Asian restaurant, best Asian practicing professional, best Asian business, best Asian community group, best Asian community event and best Asian Secondary School Student.

The Asians in the Bay awards evening will be held at the Ellwood Function Centre on Monday August 11 2014. The guest speaker will be Prof Paul Spoonley, Distinguished Pro Vice Chancellor from Massey University.

Further information on the Asians in the Bay awards is available here

For more information:
Ross Holden
Communications Manager
(06) 871 5056
027 275 5205

Wairoa scores university summer school


An academic influx is on the cards as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding between Wairoa District Council and the University of Waikato’s law faculty aimed at bringing the best young legal minds to town.

Wairoa will play host to two advanced law students this summer, during which time they will carry out research work and assist staff in a number of areas of council operation.

Chief Executive Officer Fergus Power said the University of Waikato was happy for the opportunity to offer selected students the chance to gain course credits through practical experience. The Summer School course will be the equivalent of one sixth of an academic year.

“The fact the faculty has the largest PhD law programme in the country is impressive and indicates the vitality of the university’s legal programme.”

The law students will be directly supervised by Mr Power due to his commercial and environmental legal experience in Australia and New Zealand. As the programme extends, students in other disciplines will report to senior managers and specialist staff within Council.

“This is a win-win situation for both the students and the Wairoa community. The students gain valuable practical experience and enjoy the fabulous environment and people, while the community benefits from the solutions arising out of these bright minds.”

Such arrangements also provide the opportunity for students originally from Wairoa to return home during breaks while still gaining important course credits.

“It is an added incentive, and along with reducing study costs for University students from Wairoa, means our academic talent doesn’t have to seek opportunities elsewhere,” Mr Power said.

Further talks are underway with other tertiary providers to negotiate similar arrangements in other areas of study.

Hawkes Bay poet win's the NZSA Best First Book for Poetry


Hawkes Bay poet Marty Smith has won the NZSA Best First Book for Poetry award at the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Ms Smith, who teaches at Taradale High School, said she was thrilled to hear she had won the prestigious award.

"I’m extremely happy. I spent a long time writing this book and it contains my family’s voices, the emotional truth of our history."

Many of poems concern her father, who was a WWII returned serviceman and a farmer near Pahiatua. Smith spent many hours talking to family members to gather their memories of her father and his brothers’ experiences fighting in the war.

"The war ran like current under our family. Dad didn’t talk about it, but it was always there. Like all those men, their gift to us was silence. So this book is about what war does to ordinary people."

Also central to the work is Smith’s lifelong relationship with horses. She was a track work rider as a university student, and later on the heath at Newmarket, England. Her father taught her how to ride.

"My life was framed through horses. From a historical point of view, I was always fascinated by how our civilization was tied to them. Horses made rapid movement across vast territories possible."

The prize was announced today and will be awarded at the New Zealand Post Book Awards ceremony in Wellington on Wednesday 27 August.

Marty Smith is taking part in a poetry reading at Beattie and Forbes Booksellers in Napier tomorrow night, Thursday 17 July at 5.30pm, alongside fellow local poets, Emily Dobson and David Chan. This is a free event, all welcome.

Massey University mediator wades into the Hastings haircut debate.


First there was the Dominion Post story with the headline 'School suspensions turn into trials', which quoted principal Pat Walsh as saying that parents calling in lawyers to fight their child's suspension from school are turning disciplinary hearings into "mini High Court trials". Then we had the case of Lucan Battison's hair and an actual High Court trial.

Unfortunately - for all concerned - St John's College got it wrong and the judge, Justice David Collins, said so forcefully. Lucan by all accounts was not a boy with a record of disobedience. Indeed, he had come to the nation's attention in 2013 as a schoolboy hero who helped to save two young women from drowning in the surf near Napier.

He has also had the same haircut during the previous three years of his attendance at St John's College - clear evidence of this was provided by the photographs that appeared in the press at the time of his award for bravery last year.

So this hitherto blameless young man with an award for bravery, allegedly courteous demeanour and a member of the school's first XV, is suddenly told that the hairstyle he has had since he started at St John's is no longer acceptable. Disobedience of school rules is identified as the reason for this suspension but when the rules are in fact consulted this proves not to be the case - the "rule" is that hair should be two inches off the collar and out of the eyes, which Lucan's demonstrably is.

So now the "rule" changes - so that Lucan has to have a haircut which is "to the satisfaction of the principal". Very different grounds indeed and, of course, using subjective rather than objective criteria. No wonder Justice Collins found the school "rule" uncertain. And that is, of course, the trouble with rules rather than principles. They invite angels to dance on the head of a pin.

The judge also found the punishment disproportionately harsh. The serious consequence was not justified by the relatively modest nature of the offending. Justice Collins said: "Principals must ensure that serious disciplinary consequences are reserved for truly serious cases. There must be a correlation between the offending and the punishment...and the degree of seriousness of Lucan's continued disobedience was not great enough to warrant a suspension."

Compare the views of the St John's College principal with that of the principal of Onslow College, Peter Leggat, who said in the Dominion Post that his school sets a standard and expectations: "We expect there to be nothing offensive on clothing and students to be appropriately covered. Our students show a great deal of social maturity around this."

And this is one of the key lessons here. If we want our children to grow up and be responsible we need to help them to practice that. If we want our young people to turn into good citizens with sound judgement, we need to encourage them to act in accordance with principles rather than simply obeying rules. We need them to grasp the underlying reasons for social obligations and these obligations need to be meaningful ones.

Any guidelines that apply should ideally ones into which the students themselves have had significant input, and above all, we should apply the same criteria to our school pupils as we do, through the protection provided by employment law, to their teachers.

Teachers need to obey orders too but only if they are reasonable, lawful and within the scope of the employment relationship. One of Justice Collins' arguments was that he could not see how Lucan's hairstyle had any connection with the right to education embodied in the Education Act. His conduct could not be construed as a harmful or dangerous example to others.

Ultimately the most troubling aspect of this saga to me was the persistent refusal of the school to engage in any dialogue on this matter with Lucan or his parents. We are told that Lucan, his lawyer and his parents tried six or seven times to mediate with the school but the principal - and presumably the board - simply refused to do so.

TV One's Q+A even identified the lawyer whose agreement to mediate the parents had obtained so it is clear that their preference for this approach was authentic. What kind of example does that set, I wonder, in the light of the school's attempts to gain the moral high ground here? Inflexible rules and inflexible process - not the kind of society I'm hoping to see in the future.

Such adversarial, rights-based, fact and fault-finding approaches escalate differences and exacerbate damage, while interest-based problem-solving ones allow the parties to maintain relationships and dignity through a consensual process. Much cost - in every sense of the word - could have been averted if St John's College had just been willing to talk.

Unfortunately, the headlines about dire consequences for schools from this decision (for example 'Schools scramble to check rules after student's legal victory" in the NZ Herald) seem to have missed the point. They have predicted that schools will need to lawyer up earlier but the opposite is in fact true.

They should try not to lawyer up at all if possible but, if they can't deal constructively and with conflict and learn to work responsibly in direct dialogue, maybe they need to mediator up instead. In Lucan's case, St John's College and its principal were found to be wrong in law. Justice Collins said: "The correct approach requires both flexibility and fairness."

In my view they were also wrong in principle and, if schools don't want parents lawyering up, the answer lies with them. Be reasonable, be flexible, choose principles over rules and always be willing to talk the problems through - with or without external assistance.

This is an opinion piece by Virginia Goldblatt - director of the University Mediation Service at Massey University.

A new head for EIT Hawkes Bays Ideaschool


Figuratively speaking, Chris Verburg is picking up the paintbrush as the new head of EIT’s ideaschool.

Formerly assistant head of the school of art and design, Chris takes over from Dr Suzette Major, who was recently appointed general manager of the Music Audio Institute of New Zealand (MAINZ), based in Auckland.

Born in the Netherlands, Chris came to EIT 19 years ago with a background in film post production. His first challenge was to develop and write EIT’s screen production programme, which has since evolved from a certificate into a Level 6 diploma.

“It continues to be a huge success in the eyes of students and the industry,” he says.

Chris was section manager for screen production in 2000. After Suzette joined EIT in 2010, she invited him to take on the position of assistant head of school.

“In many cases, Chris took on a co-leadership role,” she says. “With some projects, such as the launch of an app for ideaschool, he was project leader. He has also helped introduce new technology, including ideaschool’s laser cutter and 3D laser printer.”

“I have enjoyed the role immensely,” Chris says of his time as assistant head of school. “And it has given me the experience and knowledge I need to continue leading ideaschool along the positive path shaped by Suzette.”

While not wanting to give too much away, he says future plans for ideaschool include a greater integration of educational programmes encompassing screen production, fashion, visual arts and design.   That will ultimately mean bringing the different sections into one new building on campus.  

And with his strong industry background, he feels well placed to nurture strong connections formed between ideaschool and the wider community.

EIT’s ideaschool has undergone substantial changes in the four years under Suzette’s leadership.

These include the ideaschool rebranding, the launch of New Zealand’s first project-based visual arts and design degree, the introduction of a contemporary music performance programme run in association with MAINZ, helping bring pecha kucha to Hawke’s Bay and the establishment of a fashion programme on EIT’s Tairawhiti campus in Gisborne.

“These initiatives have created a strong school with well-connected programmes which are in high demand,” says Chris. “Having strengthened our national profile, we continue to attract record number of students.”

Dr Major is keen to maintain her links with EIT.

“On the one hand,” she says, “it is incredibly sad to be farewelling ideaschool but I feel I am leaving it in really good shape and in really good hands and I will have a new relationship with it with my hat on as general manager of MAINZ.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and seeing ideaschool continuing to flourish.”

Hastings St John's College face costs of more than $24,000 over a haircut suspension.


Hastings St John's College will have to pay more than $24,000 in costs after they lost a High Court battle over the supension of student Lucan Battison.

Read more: Hastings St John's College face costs of more than $24,000 over a haircut suspension.

Hastings school boy returns to class but is the battle really over?

lucan battison   hastings N1


Lucan Battison won his case against St John's College and get's to keep his hair intact but is the battle really over?

Last week Justice David Collins ruled in favour of the year 12 Hastings student, saying his suspension was unlawful - as was the hair rule set out by the school.

Lucans' parents say they are pleased with the decision but would have preferred mediation rather than going to the high court.

The battle has also proved costly for the family who now have expensive legal fees that they must cover.

Lucan was allowed to return to school before Judge Collins decision but was told that it was for educational purposes only and had been excluded from rugby training and the school ball.

Since then the decision on if he could attend the school ball has been reversed and after the judges ruling no doubt he will also be allowed back into the rugby team.