You'll remember that back in July we put out a call, crowd-sourcing questions that our members want to ask of list or electoral candidates from any political party. We compiled a list of questions that got sent to government ministers, opposition spokespeople and other political candidates.
LIANZA received responses from the Green Party, Labour, National and Hon Tracey Martin, Minister of Dept of Internal Affairs speaks for NZ First.
What would your party do to ensure that libraries can effectively implement strategies to increase digital inclusion in their communities?
NZ First: To some extent, I have already begun to implement the vision New Zealand First has around our libraries and how they can assist in addressing digital inclusion. Firstly, however, I would like to make a distinction discovered during Covid. We have two groups of people in New Zealand that require digital support. Those who are digitally excluded – meaning they do not have access to devices or the internet for a variety of reasons. Then we have those who are digitally willing – meaning they have access to devices and internet but require support to be enabled to use them.
I believe that there should be a partnership between Local Government and Central Government to fund our libraries to deliver digital support services – this might be through specific lessons for the digitally willing or greater provision of devices and internet for those that are excluded. The recent announcement I made as the Minister for Internal Affairs of funding 170 librarians to be trained to support digital access for their local communities is the beginning of that vision.
The Green Party wants to implement Internet NZ’s five-point plan for digital inclusion, including making internet connectivity and devices affordable for those on low incomes and ensuring accessible digital skills training for working people and small businesses. Libraries are well placed to assist in delivering this outcome; they often play an important role as community hubs where people come together to learn and share.
The five-point-plan includes:
1. Making connectivity affordable and accessible for Kiwis on low incomes and who have recently become unemployed.
2. Making devices available to low-income Kiwis of all ages and groups at low (or no) cost.
3. Ensuring there is wrap-around support for the newly connected, including help with digital skills, motivation and trust.
4. Funding digital skills training and other support for displaced workers and our small businesses.
5. Longer-term Internet resilience with investment in our telecommunications infrastructure.
National: New Zealand’s libraries and other public places are vital for community development and engagement, particularly for the most vulnerable and digitally excluded. National is committed to reducing the digital divide through growing digital literacy engagement, better connectivity solutions and ensuring all from our most dynamic business to the most vulnerable in our ageing communities can be a part of our changing digital nation without being left behind as the technology changes. As your members may know, National recently released its Tech Strategy for New Zealand which will work to get more New Zealanders connected. We have also committed to ending the cost for kiwis accessing Government online by working to zero-rate the data cost associated with accessing government websites whether someone is in Thames or Manapouri. We’ll have more announcements in this space during the campaign and it is also important to acknowledge once the current digital infrastructure rollouts end, new questions must arise how we as a nation support the next round of connectivity to close the digital divide through better-targeted education on safety and technological innovation to show more of the amazing ways it can benefit and shape lives. Our local libraries and other community establishments such as CAB and SeniorNet institutions will be an integral part of these discussions. You can see more on National’s Tech strategy here and National will be further releasing policies in this space over the coming days.
How would your party ensure that all NZ public libraries are enabled by local government to support the increase in need in their communities?
In addition to boosting the incomes of low income New Zealanders and rolling out new front-line mental health services, we're investing $30 million over two years to protect 170 librarian jobs and upskill librarians in public libraries so they can provide greater support for library users and help bolster reading and digital literacy.
NZ First: Again, I would point to the recent investment of $60 million dollars, which is how we see central government being able to support local libraries to deliver services that we know the need for will increase over the next few years. Libraries are safe places for our communities and an obvious go-to for informed friendly advice.
The Green Party: We know that adequate funding for our public libraries is hugely important to their ongoing success and the Green Party wants to make sure libraries can continue to develop and respond to the increasing need in our communities. In the wake of COVID-19, it is important that public and social services are still accessible and the Green Party will ensure there is funding available.
National: No response.
How would your party leverage and support the role that school, public and tertiary libraries play in providing safe community spaces and support for our youth?
We’re also establishing a new role of New Zealand Reading Ambassador for children and young people to advocate for, and promote the importance of, reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whānau and communities, helping create a ‘nation of readers’. The Ambassador will complement activities in schools and the community to increase reading for pleasure by children and young people. We know from research that reading for pleasure makes a huge difference to a child’s wellbeing and their potential for life-long success.
NZ First: By ensuring that local libraries remain open and running education programmes to ensure that our young people understand that they are free safe places. I also believe that if we can empower our young people to “take a breath” in the calm environment that our libraries can provide through quiet time (it is not as it used to be but still more than many other places). Enhancing the offerings of libraries such as listening books, music and reading for pleasure – all ways to escape from one’s life for a small period of time.
The Green Party: Our education policy recognises that our schools can act as community hubs and learning centres, with integrated community services, such as health, welfare cultural and library services. We want our libraries and schools to be able to participate in collaborations so that wrap-around services are available to our young people. We would provide additional funding to foster and resource this in our communities.
Libraries are neutral, safe public spaces that provide opportunities for our young people to grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Libraries need support for a broad mandate to create community spaces that cater to the needs of our young people.
National recognises the importance of community and school in supporting our youth and in preventing suicide. National will establish a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, and a Suicide Prevention Office tasked with addressing New Zealand’s mental health challenges.
With a global trend of increasing psychological distress in young people, there is a need for understanding the underlying causes so that the next generation of mental health services are able to address these causes through prevention and intervention. With New Zealand following this international trend of increasing psychological distress in our young people, National believes the way to address this trend is by taking an evidence based approach.
National is committed to undertaking research in mental health to build an evidence base of
what works in New Zealand. Some say that mental health is 50 years behind physical health. With all the developments in physical health over the last 50 years, mental health has a long way to go to catch up.
National will fund a new, fit for purpose baseline study of children and young people. This will enable us to understand the context and conditions underpinning the mental health of New Zealand’s youth and help inform the next generation of mental health services. National will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of this review, including any recommendations around the roles of school, public and tertiary libraries.
What will your party do to address the inequitable access of NZ primary and secondary students to a school library staffed by a qualified librarian?
Schools are responsible for deciding how they use their funding to best meet their students’ educational needs, including the size, location, resourcing and staffing of library spaces. Therefore, a key priority for Labour will be to ensure that schools get enough funding and that it is fairly distributed. Our Fiscal Plan has set aside enough money for each Budget for us to be able to continue to meet cost pressures in education, health and other public services. And we will scrap the blunt and outdated decile system and implement an Equity Index for schools and early learning services, and increase the proportion of funding that is allocated on this basis. This is a huge step towards addressing the inequities in our public education system.
We have also ensured that school librarians are also now paid at least the living wage.
It’s also important that New Zealand kids have a warm, dry, fit for purpose library that they can enjoy reading in. Schools around New Zealand had been putting off urgent property improvements because they couldn’t afford it. That’s why we announced the biggest capital injection for school maintenance funding in at least 25 years, with almost every state school receiving up to $400,000. Already through that, we’re seeing that money being spent on school libraries.
NZ First: I do believe that there needs to be a full review of the provision of qualified librarians for our compulsory schooling sector. There will require an urban and a rural solution to this issue as some of our more rural schools are too small to require a full-time librarian but a cluster of small schools could be funded to employ one say one day per week at each school.
The Green Party: Libraries are a crucial part of school communities and foster curiosity and ideas in the minds of Aotearoa’s future generations. The Green Party is committed to ensuring Aotearoa’s schools, both primary and secondary, have access to a school library staffed by a qualified librarian. We support adequate and targeted funding so primary and secondary students have access to library services.
National: We will ensure more schools have the funding they need for dedicated school library facilities through our $4.8B commitment to additional school infrastructure. We know that too many schools are currently forced to sacrifice their school library due to roll and property pressures and our additional funding will ameliorate this for many.
Our commitment to additional resourcing for school teacher aides, additional school teachers and for responding to children with additional learning needs will reduce the current pressure on operational budgets that leads to so many schools feeling forced to sacrifice their resourcing of library resources.
We have committed to studying and replicating measures that successful schools take to lift student achievement rates. As you point out, library access is often identified as one such driver and by studying this more carefully we will better be able to replicate the practices of successful schools.
Digitisation of local knowledge
What will your party do to enable more libraries to digitise the documentary heritage of their local communities?
NZ First: I would like to pursue a conversation with Archives New Zealand and the National Library about how central government could fund initiatives to support the digitisation of local communities heritage – I see an added bonus to this proposition the opening up of this as a career possibility for some of our students knowing that there is a large amount of this work that is required in many nations around the world and a shortage of these in New Zealand.
The Green Party recognises that the arts and cultural heritage have an inherent value to our communities. We will ensure there are resources available so that documentation, heritage collections that are important historically and culturally, can be digitised.
National is supportive of moves to digitise New Zealand’s heritage and the roles libraries play in this. We will consider future initiatives to support libraries (and other bodies) in this role based on relevant evidence. National has supported the uplift given to the digitisation of New Zealand’s literary history and audio visual taonga during this Parliament across our national archival institutions such as Nga Taonga Sound and Vision, Archives New Zealand and the National Library and it is clear that as more content is being sent to these institutions we also have to look at what needs protecting at the grassroots in our local communities. Some local government authorities have been taking a proactive effort in this space and other institutions have sought funding from different Crown entities as well as private and NGO resources but others haven’t had the opportunity and it could see heritage, particularly in our smaller centres, lost to time. National will commit to ensuring constructive engagement takes place to grow community initiatives to digitally archive their heritage and ensure the memories of Aotearoa’s past are preserved.
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive safe, resilient and sustainable
SDG 16 – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
What will your party do to ensure that New Zealand makes progress to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and would you appoint a lead agency for this work?
New Zealand’s Voluntary National review outlined challenges and successes, identified areas where work needed to be done and provided a baseline for future reporting. We will continue working to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both at home and around the world.
NZ First: As co Minister for the development of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy I would continue to work across all government departments to deliver on that strategy – Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern and I have created the Child and Youth Wellbeing Unit to lead that work. As the Minister for Seniors I have developed the Better Later Lives strategy for the wellbeing of our older citizens – as the lead Minister for that delivery on the multi-Ministerial group I would continue that work. Education and the understanding of diversity is the key to creating a peaceful and inclusive society – I would continue my work as Associate Minister of Education around anti-bullying and discrimination – I would continue my work as the Minister of Internal Affairs around violent extremism and the support of community programmes to grow understanding.
The Green Party: Sustainable development is crucial to the protection and restoration of our natural environment and the realisation of a fair Aotearoa where everyone can get by – two principles which underpin the Green Party’s key policy priorities. For too long, successive governments have put short term profit before our people and the planet, risking our future. They have prioritised economic growth at the expense of community wellbeing and the environment.
The Green Party strives for climate, environmental and social justice in everything we do and we know none of these goals can be achieved in isolation from each other. We think all arms of Government should be leading Aotearoa towards meeting the UN 2030 Sustainable Development goals. We need to take action on all of these goals because they work best in unison. We would be open to consideration of a lead agency if a need for greater coordination were demonstrated.
National recognises the importance of the UNSDG and the role of libraries in supporting some of those goals. National would continue to support reporting against these goals and will support our Pacific neighbours in reaching them, but sees no reason to appoint a lead agency at this point in time.
Access to research
Would your party support a move to “open access” publishing for publicly-funded research?
NZ First: We would be very interested in pursuing this concept further and at first blush would be supportive.
The Green Party: Yes. We are committed to open data and data sharing and have all the results of publicly funded research published and held in the public domain, with proceeds from patents, licensing, etc. being reinvested in the funding pool.
National is apprehensive for this proposal due to the myriad of other concerns that may be attached to such a proposal. Many Universities and Tertiary institutions have very supportive access provisions available to students and academics due to an international agreement in this space but there is a sizeable cost involved for those institutions as well as a need to ensure our research reaches around the world for the benefit of all, the cost being associated with the publication and dissemination of that research as well as the time and commitment a teaching institution, organisation or other entity has put into the proliferation of new and innovative academic content. We would believe firmly that any decisions around this would have to be led by the industries primarily involved in the dissemination of the information due to the sizeable financial commitment such a decision could unwittingly invoke as questions related to copyright of the institutions, and the creative rights of the content creators also have to be carefully considered in light of an open access publishing model which could see significant revenue impact as a result of a mandated open access regime. We are willing to continue the conversation in this space with the appropriate stakeholders.
Balchin, J. (2019, September 12). Our public libraries play a vital role. Otago Daily Times. https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/our-public-libraries-play-vital-role
Greer, J., & Morris, M. (2019). The People’s Report on the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals: An alternate report for Aotearoa New Zealand. https://www.sdg.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Final_PeopleReport-2019-Dec-2019_for-web.pdf
Hartnett, M. (2020, January 26). Libraries as spaces for digital inclusion – an update. Equity Through Education. https://www.equitythrougheducation.nz/latest-news/2020/1/26/libraries-as-spaces-for-digital-inclusion-an-update
Menzies, R., Gluckman, P., & Poulton, R. (2020). Youth Mental Health in Aotearoa New Zealand: Greater urgency required. Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland. https://informedfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/Youth-Mental-Health-in-Aotearoa-NZ.pdf
National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). Importance of the school library in learning – the research. https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/understanding-school-libraries/importance-of-the-school-library-in-learning-the-research#nzresearch
UNICEF Innocenti. (2020). Worlds of influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries (Innocenti Report Card 16). UNICEF Office of Research. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/Report-Card-16-Worlds-of-Influence-child-wellbeing.pdf