Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Still Nothing from Ms Paula Bennett!

Time is almost up folks to get your submissions to the select committee and support sole parent beneficiaries. Please remember that although this may not affect you now I truly believe this is the start of New Zealand making Early Childhood Education compulsory for all 3-5 year olds and this is merely just a 'test group'.  They have no right to part us from our children and at such an early age and we must fight hard to keep this freedom. It goes against our human rights to take this away from a parent.

I am sadly still waiting on a reply to my letters to Hon. Paula Bennet...it's been 42 days now since I wrote :-(  Interestingly every other member of parliament I have written to in the last six weeks has done me the courtesy of replying except the one minister who has any power in these matters.  I was promised a reply in an email dated 11th October.

"Your email of 18 September 2012 was received by this office and your response is in the final stages of sign-out and should be sent to you early this week.  An acknowledgement was emailed to you on 20 September advising that you would receive a response at the Minister’s earliest convenience" from Natalie Hansen Private Secretary, Office of Hon Paula Bennett Minister for Social Development

Alas though the reply has not arrived and with submissions closing tomorrow it looks like I will be made to wait until after submissions close,  when it will be too late for me to raise any further issues in a submission, how very convenient!!

I will leave you with an excellent piece by Barbara Smith from the Home Education Foundation on why we should ALL submit a submission.

Why should I put a submission into the Select Committee about the beneficiaries?


We only have just 2 more days for getting submissions in to the Select Committee to stop the Government from making ECE and immunisations compulsory for beneficiaries. All the information you need is here: http://hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/

Some of us think why should we be doing anything that will not affect us?

Let me assure you that you do not know when this could affect you. You do not know when you might become a widow, become unemployed, or have sickness in your family.

So please think again. And put in a submission.

When Ruby Harrold-Claesson (the Swedish lawyer) was here in New Zealand a few years ago she talked about the “tyranny of the small steps”. The Government knows that they can’t make huge changes all at once so they do it in little steps in ways that people can’t see what they are doing.
Well this Bill, I am convinced, is to make ECE and immunisations COMPULSORY for all children down the line. The Government is taking it is small steps and thinking that if they bring it in under the idea of reducing benefits then it might be accepted. Well just read the “White Paper” or the “Supporting Vulnerable Children” pamphlet. This is what they say:
Result 2: Early childhood education: In 2016, 98 per cent of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education.
Result 3: Immunisation: Increase infant immunisation rates so that 95 per cent of eight month olds are fully immunised by December 2014 and this is maintained until 30 June 2017.
Result 4: Assaults on children: By 2017, we aim to halt the rise in children experiencing physical abuse and reduce current numbers by five per cent. —- (Why is Result 4 one ONLY 5%?)
These are yours and my children. They mostly don’t go to ECE and are mostly not immunised.

Paula Bennett eventually (2016 for ECE and 2014 for immunisations) wants this to be for almost ALL children. 98% for ECE and 95% for immunisations is almost all children and only 5% reduction in abuse of children. It is our children Paula Bennett is after not the abused children.

So please think again and put in a submission for your children and grandchildren.
All the information you need is here: http://hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/

35 submissions already put in are here: http://hef.org.nz/beneficiaries/submissions/
To make an online submissions click here and go to the bottom of the page: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/MakeSub/2/d/6/50SCSS_SCF_00DBHOH_BILL11634_1-Social-Security-Benefit-Categories.htm

This Bill MUST be rejected. Please ask for it to be totally rejected in your submissions. Thank you.

About the Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation has been informing parents for 27 years about the fantastic opportunity to de-institutionalise our sons and daughters and to embrace the spiritual, intellectual and academic freedom that is ours for the taking. Through conferences, journals, newsletters and all kinds of personal communications, we explain the vision of handcrafting each child into a unique individual, complete with virtuous character, a hunger for service to others, academic acumen and a strong work ethic. For more information, please visit www.hef.org.nz


I ask my friends, family and anyone else reading this to make a submission and make a difference.  You can even make submissions from abroad so don't let that stop you!  Please support our freedom to choose and bring back the right to look at Motherhood as a worthy and valid career path.  I love my kids and nothing is more important than their education, health and well being and who better to give them these things than the Mother who loves them with all her heart and soul. 

Kate x


Within an hour of posting this blog I got a reply from Hon. Paula Bennett albeit a copy and paste job of all the other letters I have seen recently however at least I got a reply.  I have asked for clarification on one point and that is if sole parent beneficiaries meet the 15 hours of works (which I more than do) then is she saying we still will not be allowed to homeschool our children?  If so why the hell not??!!! Are we lesser human beings that we have this right taken away from us because we have had to ask for help?  When did Motherhood become a choice? Where have the days gone when a Mother was positively encouraged to stay at home with her little ones, what a sad, sad world it is becoming.  I work longer hours than anyone I know and I don't get weekends off!! I am MAD with a capital M!!

Monday, 29 October 2012

I am turning into my Mother!

Having never really enjoyed shopping I had not noticed the battle that shoppers have to endure in just about every shop you go to...music or so called music.

I went to Takapuna today, strangely really into buying clothes since I have lost weight and the arrival of a really lovely man in my life.  On approaching the first shop my ears were assaulted by what can only be described as a noise that was emanating from inside the shop.  I braved it and entered in, it was totally mind numbing!  I tried really hard to keep my mind on the job but when I asked the assistant if they had something in my size I found that we were actually shouting at each other!  I gave up and left mumbling under my breath, not that anyone would have heard me if I had said it out loud.

I visit the next shop thinking that this is just a one off noise but once again my ears are attacked by an awful unintelligible din.  I find myself thinking about (or trying to!) the poor shop assistants who have to work in such a loud environment and wonder whether shops like these will have hundreds of claims on their hands in a few years when these poor people have lost their hearing.

I decided to look into the thinking behind what seems to be becoming a trend.  My Mum has been complaining about it for years.  I have been dragged into many shops and dragged out just as fast with Mum, fingers in ears getting cross with the shop assistant.  I can even remember one time where my Mum found the stereo and turned it off and looked so fiercely at the shop assistant (all 4"6 of her) that she didn't dare turn it back on till we left. It even got a cheer from fellow shoppers.  I have always admired my Mums tenacity.

The answer to this puzzling question is of course it is a marketing strategy, albeit a strange one.  The first answer I found was 'It's welcoming' are you joking? really?! for whom exactly? The second answer I found was 'to attract customers into the shop'  How? by deafening them into a hypnotic buying frenzy or something?! I have no objection to the music but why oh why does it have to be so loud!!

There was a shopping mall in America that brought in a team of audiologists to measure the sound coming from various shops.  Most of the music was found to be louder than a chainsaw and way above sensible audible levels.  They believed that without a shadow of a doubt the people working within the stores would almost certainly suffer from hearing loss in the future. 

According to Smith & Cumow 1966 Loud music increases sales per minute than that of soft gentle music. My guess is you grab want you pay and leave as quickly as possible!! Researchers have also found that over 25 year olds when entering stores that play popular loud chart music believe that they have spent more time shopping compared with easy listening where they think they have been in the store longer.  Yes it's called being relaxed and having a good experience!!

All I can say is what a crock of shite!!  It has to be THE worst marketing strategy ever.  I don't want to damage my ears whilst I buy a dress.  I don't want to run into a store pick up a few items and run.  I WANT to be left in peace to shop and enjoy it.  I am not asking to listen to Chopin (although it would be nice) just that the volume could come down a notch or ten!!

It is time for shop owners to realise that not all their shoppers are teenagers and we don't all enjoy loud mindless music.  Is it just Mum and I that feel like this?  Am I basically growing older? I don't think so I just want to enjoy this new found love of shopping without worrying about the fact that my next doctors visit will be to an audiologist!!

I am seriously thinking of starting a petition, whose with me?!!!!!!


Have a great day

Kate x

P.s I have had so many emails asking me how the dates are going with the new man in my life, so just a brief word about it!  He is an absolute sweetheart and I am enjoying every second of this new romance.  I wake up smiling and I go to bed smiling, it's been a long time since I have been so happy....and that's all your getting ;-) 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Jen Sephton - Guest Blog


Jen Sephton

Guest Blog

Jen Sephton lives in Auckland with her husband Jim and two beautiful girls Daisy and Phoebe.  Born in the UK Jen moved to New Zealand with her family nearly five years ago.  My life totally changed when I met this incredible family and they have been a constant source of love and support in my life.  I am very proud and lucky to be able to call the Sephton's family.  The last few years have been incredibly tough for these guys.  In this guest blog Jen shares with us her very personal story of losing her wonderful Dad unexpectedly to cancer this year and her courage and determination to make a difference for the hospice where he spent he last weeks. 

If you are able to help with Jen & Jim's fundraising efforts, whether that's $1 or $100 then please visit the link below to make a donation. 

Forward by Katherine Armon 


We lost my dear old Dad Alan to cancer back in April this year.  He was happily enjoying his retirement and celebrating 40 years of marriage.  Dad became ill in January but wasn't diagnosed until the March; he died within just 5 weeks of diagnosis. 

Dad spent the last 3 weeks of his life being cared for at Totara Hospice.  The level of care he received and the support we were given as a family form the Hospice was second to none.  My Dad was a true gentleman, a very independent, capable and strong man who, thanks to the wonderful nurses at Totara Hospice was able to keep his dignity right to the very end.  I will be eternally grateful to the nurse who was on duty the day Dad passed away, thanks to her experience and sensitivity my Mum, my Husband Jim and I were able to be there with Dad at the end holding his hands.

We decided that we had to give something back to the Hospice to show our appreciation and raise awareness to the amazing work that they do.  So the Sephton's embarked on a fundraising campaign which has escalated as the weeks have gone on!  We started by registering ourselves to run the Auckland Half Marathon, which is on the 28th October, which is something that Jim nor I have done before.  The training has been tough and we have both had to overcome illness and injury but we're determined to cross the finish line and hopefully we will be vertical when we do!!

Our two gorgeous girls Daisy and Phoebe have also been involved. Daisy donated her $2 from the Tooth Fairy and they both along with some of their friends helped with our very successful bucket shake at Botany Town Centre where we raised an amazing $532!  They also had the idea of selling Angel shaped cookies to their class mates at school for morning tea for $1 a cookie so the school have happily agreed to that.  It's wonderful to see the kids getting involved and such a valuable lesson for them to learn, the importance of giving to others.

We would love to raise $2,000 for the Hospice and will keep thinking of ways to raise money until we reach our goal and who knows, we may even exceed it! 

Jen, Jim, Daisy and Phoebe


If you are able to help with this wonderful cause you can donate money by visiting Jen & Jim's sponsorship page.  Whether you can afford $1 or $100 every dollar helps!  Just click on the picture below to donate!  Thank you x

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Single Mum and the Dating Game!

I have been on my own now for 3 and a half years. I decided quite recently that it was about time I got back out there and started dating again.

A completely and utterly terrifying concept I can assure you. I had been with my ex for 10 years so basically I have been out of the dating game for about 13 years. The thought of getting dressed up, first dates and dating etiquette is an utterly alien concept to me but all the same it’s about time.

Not really knowing where to start and not being someone who really fancied at 38 getting dolled up and hitting a nightclub. I thought I would try the online dating scene. I have heard all sorts of stories of success from online dating so why not give it a go.  I rather like the idea of being able to chat to people first, maybe build up a little confidence before actually meeting the man of my dreams!

I joined two very different sites here in New Zealand. The first NZ dating and the other one Findsomeone. I loaded a half decent picture of myself and filled in the endless questionnaires about my likes and dislikes. Some questions more obscure than others for example ‘What’s my opinion on housework’ or ‘What’s my opinion on drugs’ but I battled on and answered all the questions I could as honestly as possible, not something that everyone does I discover!

 What I learned very quickly is that the two sites couldn't be anymore different. I was very excited to get an email the day after my profile went live on NZ dating. I logged on quickly expecting rather naively to see the man of my dreams staring at me on my screen but no not a face but a rather large penis! The message accompanying the rather stiff picture read "If u fancy some of this love mail me" and that was it! No small talk, no telling me what hobbies he enjoyed or whether he was a vegan or meat eater or if he liked Pop or classical music just one line and a picture of his penis!

Unsurprisingly that was the first of many mails I did not reply to and in general fairly much summed up the type of emails I get from this site. With the second most popular being couples who would like me to come over and make their relationships more ‘interesting’!

The second site Find Someone is a little different, for a start I haven’t received any naked pictures of any description…well not yet anyway! The guys seem to take a lot more effort to fill in their profiles and send decent messages introducing themselves in a more ‘normal’ way. Being a bit of an old fashioned girl I find it quite hard to make first contact and to be honest when I do pluck up the courage to say 'hello' it is fairly rare that anyone even bothers to say 'hello' back.  You really do have to get a thick skin and not let it bother you but I would be lying if I told you it doesn't bother you just a little bit.  You start questioning your picture, your profile, the way you worded 'hello'.  However these days I just go with the flow and live in hope that one day someone will start talking to me and we will hit it off like Romeo and Juliet! I know I am a ridiculous unrealistic romantic!

 One of the main problems I have had with the online dating sites is that at 38 I am not really ready to date 68 year old men. I am sure they are very nice but where are all the men my age? Are there any left in New Zealand at all I ask myself?

It got me thinking whether the whole single Mum issue frightens men off. The thought that they are not just dating a woman but becoming a step Dad to two girls overnight if it gets serious. I have tried to make it clear in my bio that I am not looking for a Dad for my girls but then of course this raises questions in my head. How would it work? So I start dating a man, we start getting along; I really like him and then what? I introduce him to my little babies? The idea seems insane!

Don’t get me wrong my kids are obviously THE most gorgeous, beautiful, well-behaved kids in the world but how would it work? I don’t really imagine guys look at my profile and go ‘Oh WOW the woman of my dreams, she has two kids’!

I don’t suppose there are too many guys out there my age who are single and actively looking for a relationship with kids thrown in for good measure.

Where does that leave us single girls? Dateless I suppose unless we are looking for some meaningless one night stands with men who show you the goods prior to meeting them, couples who want you to service both of them or old single guys who…well actually I haven’t really fathomed the contact from old guys yet, is it a sex thing? Loneliness? or do they have the maturity to not see kids as a problem? I would like to believe it’s the latter but instinct tells me it’s not!

I am ever the optimist though I just know that somewhere out there is my Mr. Right and the fact that I am a single Mum with two little girls won't even be an issue.  With my new found confidence and sylph-like goddess figure (I jest!) there will be no stopping me!

Have a great day

Kate x

P.s Breaking News - talking to a guy of my own age, he doesn't have two heads, doesn't appear to a serial killer or married and seems really nice!  Is there hope for me yet?

Friday, 12 October 2012

It was the sausages that did it...

The promise I made myself when I started weight watchers back in January was that I was going to use my blog as a way of staying accountable for my eating decisions.  I figured that if I made my journey public it would help to keep me on track so it's confession time....

It was the sausages that did it...the smell wafting from the oven as they cooked...it was the soft white buttered bread and real Heinz ketchup that made my mouth water.  I managed to give the kids their treat of sausage in bread (such a kiwi thing, we use hot dog buns in the UK!) and make my own green juice as I intended to eat my salmon and veges that night.  

Dreamstime Images
What happened next...well I think I must have been possessed as I haven't just eaten one sausage but two ( have to say they were absolutely delicious).  I instantly feel guilty, beat yourself up kind of guilty, but come on Kate let's put this into perspective, two sausages, soft soft soft white bread (sorry drifting off again, mouth watering) and ketchup up against the last two months of my new life eating fresh green juices, raw vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish, the two don't really compare!  It was a stumble, that's all just a stumble.  I have to say though of all the foods I thought would make me stumble, a sausage really??  I could understand it if it had been Mum's roast or a juicy steak but a sausage? Didn't know I particularly liked sausages but apparently I do!

The whole concept of weight watchers is not to deny yourself.   There will always be times you stumble on your weight loss journey the biggest thing is not to let that stumble turn into a full on avalanche.  The difference for me and why I am sticking to the filling and healthy foods and denying myself various food groups is to see whether it will help with the aches and pains, which is has done on an incredible level and is totally worth the exclusion of some foods from my diet.

Interestingly the following day after 'Sausagegate' I felt really rubbish, my digestion was totally shot, I felt sluggish and I had a headached from hell.  I was pleased to reach out and drink my green sludge, sorry I mean my delicious apple and celery glass of heaven the next day plus my  fish with veges that evening.  It doesn't take your system long at all to get used to a new way of life and if this has proved anything to me it really is that 'we are what we eat'.

The good news this week is I have lost my 1 kg for Million for a Million, making my goal just 1 kg from my reach.  I simply can't believe my weight loss goal is so close.  I know I want to lose more now but to have my original goal so close to my sights feels absolutely amazing.  I have tried so many times to lose weight in my life and have never manage it.  My confidence is soaring and I feel so healthy!  I have ditched the big clothes and Bridget Jones knickers and looking forward to being the person I always knew I was and that has been hiding under a couple layers of fat for years.

Have a great day folks

Kate x

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Hardest Blog I have ever had to write...

The Hardest Blog I have ever had to write... 

As many of you know I am a single Mum and I homeschool my girls. What I may not have shared with you before now because it is deeply personal is that when my marriage broke up I was forced into a position where I needed financial help from our government here in New Zealand. I swallowed what pride I had left and asked for help which they gave and for that I am most grateful. 

Being a single Mum can be incredibly challenging with all the responsibility squarely on just one set of shoulders. It is not easy trying to find work full stop but trying to find work that fits around one three year old and one six year (even if they were at school) as a single Mum is even harder. However my love is writing and since becoming a single Mum I have focused much of my working energy on making a living as a writer and photographer. I am not yet at the point where my writing can sustain us fully but it is my hope that one day soon it will, I certainly put in the hours!

I am writing this blog today on a very personal note and in support of other Mother's like myself who contrary to the new 'social obligations' that are about to be attached to the Sole Parent benefit have our children's education, health and well being at the centre of our universe. The new 'social obligations' being added are that children of sole parent beneficiaries like myself must :-

  • attend 15 hours a week Early Childhood Education (ECE) from age 3 
  • attend school from age five or six 
  • enrol with a General Practitioner 
  • complete core WellChild/Tamariki Ora checks 

These new 'obligations' will be compulsory for all sole parents like myself. For non compliance three warnings will be given before their benefit is cut by half. At which point other pressure will be applied through other agencies like CYFS to ensure submission. 

These new obligations make the very wrong assumption that all sole parent beneficiaries are bad parents and are incapable of making intelligent and well reasoned decisions for their own children. As my Mum said to me this week "One size does not fit all"

Interestingly in a recent interview on TVNZ's Q+A programme Ms Bennett actually states "I don't think that every child actually needs to be in early childhood education, but I do think it benefits those that are most vulnerable so much, that's why I'm doing this." but she agreed these reforms would indeed force all beneficiaries to enroll their children."It is an expectation for all beneficiaries, however we will only be dealing with those whom we class as vulnerable" Ms Bennett said there had to be a "stick at the end" to get behavioral change. 

Does that mean it's just tough luck for those of us who actually care about our children? That we must all be treated the same? Or hope no one notices us sitting quietly in the corner praying to God our children will not be forced from our homes into substandard childcare (in my area anyway). When we ourselves as their Mothers are willing and able to offer them a rich environment of education, care and love? I would love to know what percentage of sole parent beneficiaries children are 'vulnerable' and what percentage are like my family that simply doesn't have quite enough to get by on. 

How times have changed! It used to be that Mother's were respected for their choice to stay at home and care for their young, now it seems we are to be punished for it. It is now the 'norm' to send our children off to be looked after by strangers under the pretense it is somehow good for them to be separated from those who love them. Many of my friends send their children to ECE and I respect their decision to do so, in the same way as they respect my decision not to. It is a freedom of choice that is being removed from one section of society - sole parent beneficiaries.

According to the Human Rights Act 1993, "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children" My human rights are being completely violated by this new bill and why? because I am not able financially to completely support myself. This bill targets just one section of society, am I somehow less human than my friend down the road with a husband at work? Or is this the beginning of legislation they will bring in for all parents across the board. 

Even if you are not a single Mum or Dad, beneficiary or not please take the time to look at this issue, it has the potential to effect all us and the freedom we currently enjoy to make decisions for our own children.

Our Family - Please help us to Protect our Freedom to choose

Below is the submission I made to the Government. If you would like to make a submission please go to http://bit.ly/VyFqpP


Submission regarding Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

I am a single Mum to Charlotte who is six and a half and Rosie who has just turned 3. I am not a single Mother through choice; I cannot imagine there are too many parents who would choose this difficult path to one of two parents sharing the role of parenting and the financial security this would usually bring. 

My choice is to stay at home with my children, I look at it as a profession that demands the absolute best that I can bring to it and I do it with a bucket full of love for each of my precious children. I also work from home as a freelance writer and photographer and I am also a sole parent beneficiary.

I knew I wanted to homeschool my children before they were even in existence. I feel passionately about bringing up my children within the home environment, somewhere their needs and education can be met with love, respect and passion.

I would draw your attention at this point to the Human Rights Act of 1993 that states, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”. I believe this bill will be in breach of my human rights. How can we only target one section of society because they are poorer than the rest, are we saying that somehow this section of society is less human than our next door neighbours because they don’t have a husband or full time employment to support themselves without help? I repeat it is not a path you would choose if didn’t have to; Single parenting is hard, incredibly rewarding but hard.

I believe that a child's ability to function throughout his life is directly attributed to their home environment. ‘Home is where the heart is’ I believe the saying goes. Home is where you rest your head at night; it’s a place where we find comfort, food and clean clothes. As adults we have many roles in life and being a parent seems to be becoming less and less important. Trying to force Mother’s back to work when they should be at home caring for their children is a loss of one of the most important tasks a person can undertake, to educate and care for their child and not feel pressured if that is their choice. I understand it is not for every parent but it should remain a valid choice of career for Mothers. Our children after all are the future, what more rewarding or important task can there be in life than to bring these little people up to be incredible human beings?

You would not expect a government department to work without a manager would you? That person is present everyday to ensure that plans are followed; jobs are completed and that everyone is working the way they need to. It’s the same in my house, I am that Manager I have the time and energy to invest in my two little girls like no one else does, no one is more qualified than I am as their Mother.

My two children are thriving under home instruction and I find it more than a little difficult to understand a government policy which can possibly think that my girls would be better off in an over crowded classroom or fighting for a place in the local Early childhood education centre which isn’t even walking distance from our home, when I am willing and able to provide such a high level of individual tuition, activities and education for them both.

I would bring your attention to the study done by the researcher Dr Raymond Moore: ‘“Harold McCurdy, a distinguished psychologist from the University of North Carolina and a leading student of genius, says that genius is derived from the experience of children being most of the time with adults and very little with their peers. So when you start assembling children in very large numbers for long periods of time, you are on the wrong course for producing strong character and intellect. The more children around your child, the fewer meaningful human contacts he will have. Let me give you another example, the matter of adult responses. John Goodlad, Graduate Dean of Education at UCLA, came out with an article in the Phi Delta Kappan in March, 1983. He did a comparison of over a thousand schools and found that the average amount of time spent in person-to-person responses between teachers and students amounted to seven minutes a day. It doesn’t take much to see that if your child is one of 20, 25, 30 or maybe more youngsters in a classroom and the teacher is giving only seven minutes a day in responses, that your child is lucky if he gets spoken to once a day. If he is an aggressive or misbehaving child, he might get more attention. But when a child is home with his mother, he may get one, two, three hundred answers to his questions and ideas a day. So you can see right there where we are in terms of the sheer potential there is for the stimulation of intellect in a home.”

In further research I have undertaken I have found many reasons against sending my children to Early Childhood facilities. I will just mention two of the studies for you. The first study was undertaken by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and found that aggression and behavioral difficulties are linked to children being placed into early childhood settings from a young age. The second study by Jay Belsky Birkbeck College, University of London, U.K. found that his analysis of research produced the conclusion that early and extensive non-maternal care carried risks in terms of increasing the probability of an insecure infant—parent attachment relationships and promoting aggression and noncompliance during the toddler, preschool, and early primary school years. 

My children are both thriving at home and I do not wish to separate them from one another. They are best friends and absolutely adore each other. At the present time they learn together with great enjoyment of each other’s company, although they work at different levels of course. It would be detrimental to both my children to remove the younger of my children into forced ECE. At this current time I hold an exemption for my eldest as was even commended highly from the Ministry of Education for my enthusiasm “Congratulations on this application, a very full, thorough and well reasoned approach. Your enthusiasm certainly comes through. Nice to see you know the “big picture”, enjoyed the DVD” Steve McGregor. 

I understand sadly that there is many parents out there, who are not just single but married, on benefit and not on benefit that do not have their children’s welfare at heart and these children need to be protected. However I cannot object more strongly to the government’s assumption that sole parents on benefit are all neglectful parents who don’t care about their children’s health and education and in the words of the MP Paula Bennett need “A big stick waved at them” to be compliant to the new social obligations that make sweeping assumptions about our parenting abilities as single parents because we have had to ask for financial assistance. What possible basis do you have for such severe discrimination and assumption of bad parenting against this small section of society?

There is no thing of greater importance in my life than my two children, their education and their health. I do not wish to delegate my responsibility to educate and care for my children to anyone else. Yet according to new guidelines after three warnings of refusing to bend to your will, the little help I get from the government will be halved and the big stick brought out to punish my little family. Followed by involvement from other government agencies to further push and stress my beautiful family into submission.

On the issue of health I do believe children should be enrolled with a GP or at least have access to a doctor but not just the children of single parents but ALL children, again why is this issue aimed at sole parents only, yet more discrimination and judgements on our parenting abilities and freedom of choice for our families.

I do believe we have a right to choose if our children are to be vaccinated. I know this is a hugely controversial issue and the government is keen to get to its targets but at what risk? Let me site three interesting facts concerning vaccines and why it should be a choice given to all parents to make for themselves.

  • In 1975, Japan raised its minimum vaccination age to 2 years old. The country’s infant mortality subsequently plummeted to such low levels that Japan now enjoys one of the lowest levels in the Western world. 
  • In Australia in 2005 the flu vaccine was suspended after an alarming number of children were showing up in A&E with febrile convulsions and other vaccine related symptoms just hours after receiving the vaccine. 
  • Some of the ingredients that can be found in vaccines currently on the market MSG, antifreeze, phenol (used as a disinfectant), formaldehyde (cancer causing and used to embalm), aluminum (associated with alzheimer’s disease, parkisons and seizures), glycerin (toxic to the kidney, liver, can cause lung damage, gastrointestinal damage and death), lead, cadmium, sulfates, yeast proteins, antibiotics, acetone (used in nail polish remover), neomycin and streptomycin. The ingredient currently making the press is thimerosol (more toxic than mercury, a preservative still used in many vaccines, not easily eliminated, can cause severe neurological damage as well as other life threatening autoimmune disease). 
To say nothing of the controversy that has surrounded the MMR for years and the tragic effects it can have. As a family we know this only to well after watching a friend lose her child from the suspected effects of the MMR vaccine.

I would at this point draw your attention to a paper that MP Paula Bennett released where she stated, “Immunization is a medical treatment and the decision should remain with the parent” I don’t think at any point did Ms Bennett say ‘except single parents on benefit’! Why do we cease to get the choice? Are we now lesser members of society because we are financially vulnerable and in need of help from the country we live in?

I work as many hours as I can to help provide for my family. I am a writer and photographer and do as much work as I can to help my situation. I imagine next to a lot of people the hours I work as a parent on my own, teacher to my children, and as a writer would make their working day feel like a part time job! It is my hope that it won’t be long before we can fully support ourselves but until then I am at your mercy. 

It is my hope that you will all individually consider the rights you are intending to take away from sole parent beneficiaries like myself and SAY NO to this bill, one size does not fit all.

I truly believe that this new legislation discriminates against beneficiaries and their children. The question is how long before this type of legislation creeps into all of our lives and decisions that should be ours are taken away from us? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Have a great day folks and thanks for listening, this has to be the hardest blog I have ever written.

Kate xx 

Replies from MP's so far -

Dear Katherine

Thank you for your email, and for sharing your personal experiences and opposition to this bill.

You are not the first mother who has raised with me these concerns, and I followed up with some questions to the minister to clarify whether there would be any home schooling exemptions- the simple answer is no. I have also pushed the other point that you have raised, and that is that if she believes these obligations are in the best interest of all children, why is she only targeting those on government support? Her response was in essence, 'because we can'

I also sought clarity around the question of immunization. Although the social obligations include well child checks, the minister has said that this will not include sanctions if a child is not immunized.

These are all issues though that I will continue to raise at select committee. I really do encourage you to make a submission on this bill, although I appreciate that you have enormous amount of pressure on your time.

In the meantime, I can assure you that labour will be opposing this bill every step of the way.

Yours Sincerely

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern

Labour Member of Parliament based in Auckland Central

Labour Spokesperson for Social Development and Children


From: David Cunliffe

Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2012 04:05:06 +0000

Subject: RE: Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill.

Hi Katherine

Thank you for your heart felt email. I am sure that you do the very best for your kids and I agree that Ms Bennett is discriminating against beneficiaries.

Thanks for sharing your views.

Kind regards

David Cunliffe 


Dear Katherine,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I appreciate your situation, and taking the time to write.

I shall be discussing this with my colleague(s) in the Green caucus who are responsible for this issue.


Ken Graham


I have finally heard back from Ms Bennett's office, asking me whether I require an answer to the same email that I wrote to all the other MP's and also makes up my submission to the select committee!  I wrote back and said yes I would like a reply as I would appreciate her comments before the select committee meet in November.  I also inquired as to when I might hear back from Ms Bennett regarding my previous letter sent to her office on 18th September and apparently 'it is in the final stages of sign-out and should be sent to you early this week'. I am learning this is a fairly standard reply sent out from this office!  I take it they actually mean early next week as it is Thursday now!  I have had replies from so many MP's within just a few days and yet it has taken 21 days so far to get a reply to my first letter.  Only time will tell, I do so hope that the Hon. Paula Bennett actually addresses the issues I raise and I don't get general letter of reply, fingers crossed. 28 days and counting and still waiting :-(  UPDATE STILL NO reply from Paula Bennett it has now been 34 days I was promised a reply last week, just waiting on the final sign out....as the Tui advert says 'Yeah Right'.

Hi Katherine

Your email of 18 September 2012 was received by this office and your response is in the final stages of sign-out and should be sent to you early this week.  An acknowledgement was emailed to you on 20 September advising that you would receive a response at the Minister’s earliest convenience.

I have forwarded your email of 7 October to the Clerk of the Social Services Committee and consideration is currently being given to the matters you raise and you may expect a reply at the Minister’s earliest opportunity.

Kind regards
Natalie Hansen

Private Secretary, Office of Hon Paula Bennett Minister for Social Development | Minister of Youth Affairs Executive Wing 5.5, Parliament

Dear Ms Armon,

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge the copy of your email sent for Mr Key’s information.

E Tanga         
Ministerial Assistant/Records Officer          
Office of the Prime Minister


Dear Katherine,
Thank you for your thoughtful letter.  I appreciate your situation, and taking the time to write.
I shall be discussing this with my colleague(s) in the Green caucus who are responsible for this issue.
Ken Graham


Dear Katherine

Thank you for your letter on the Social Security Amendment Bill.

I have passed it on to Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson and asked her to copy to me her reply.

I certainly understand the concerns you have about the Bill.

Yours sincerely

Phil Goff

Hon Phil Goff
MP for Mt Roskill
Labour Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Trade

Interesting and unbelievable reply someone has received from Paula Bennett (so doing better than I am!!) http://hef.org.nz/2012/letter-from-paula-bennett-to-samuel-blight/


A rather predictable reply from Hon Jo Goodhew regarding immunizations. In reply to the comments in her letter, there are as many studies that DO show the links between autism and other conditions.

I notice she does not address the issues I raised about the toxic contents found in vaccines, I wonder why!!!!

STILL awaiting reply from Hon Paula Bennetts office it has now been 36 days.  Every other person I wrote to within parliament has now replied except the one person who is able to make a decision about it!!!!!!   

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Valerie Klein - My First Guest Blogger

ValerieKlein                                          Guest Blogger

I am thrilled to have Valerie Klein as the first in a series of guest bloggers here on my blog.  Valerie Klein is 38 years old and lives in Howick.  Valerie is a wife, mother to three beautiful children, friend, daughter and Weight Watchers Leader.  Born in Zimbabwe she moved here to Auckland with her family 8 years ago. 
Valerie has been a tremendous support to me during my weight loss journey. As a friend and a Weight Watchers Leader (although not mine) she has been a tower of strength and encouragement.  Her words of wisdom and support have really helped me; she has the knack for always saying the thing you most need to hear. 


Having enjoyed the Land of Milk and Honey (aka New Zealand) for 3 years after immigrating from Zimbabwe with all the shortages and restrictions, my light bulb moment happened when I realised that my Mom, who was double my age, could do more physical labour without getting hot, sweaty and puffed than I could!  So my journey to a fit and healthy life started…..
Acknowledging that I could not do the weight loss on my own was such a huge step for me.  I knew all the “stuff”, for goodness sake I had studied it for 2 years, but I still did not have the tools to knock this demon on the head.  So when a friend mentioned she was attending a WW meeting I tagged along, supposedly to share a coffee with her after her meeting but really it was a cry for help.  5 years, 30 kgs and another baby down the line, I have found a love of helping others find their healthy, fit life too.
Some of the truths that I have found along this journey are personal but most I have found to be pretty common to most of us in this game of life. 
Weight loss and weight gain has so much more to do with your attitude, your reasoning, your mind-set, your head space (call it what you will) than it has to do with the food you put in your mouth.  When you are in the wonderful space of motivation, success, health, love, with a flow of endorphins in your system it is so easy to choose the food your body needs and limit it at that.  But when that space is cluttered with stress, sickness, pain, sleep deprivation and the like those choices are somehow skewed.  

The modelling we have from our family over many years of our growing up, and subsequent years (for most of us) has a lot to do with how we cope with those times of stress, or pain.  Food is used by mothers the world over and for generations as a comforter (think when you were sick as a kid), as a distractor (what happened each time you hurt yourself) and also at celebrations, family get-togethers.  How many occasions are planned, and the first thing that is sorted out is the menu? 
But also how our bodies react physically to that space of being in pain, stressed or sleep deprived, is also a thing of mystery to me.  I have watched over the 2 years of being a leader how people can be “on the program” but only lose a little week in and week out, then suddenly something happens in their world outside of food and CLICK the weight drops off.  The idea that you have to choose this for life is a wonderful thing.  The choice is up to YOU.  And this has to do with all aspects of health and fitness not just the food thing.  The most wonderful gift you can give yourself is to be open to trying new things, learning, and growing.  The old adage of “Learn something new every day” is a great way to get to a point of loving yourself and your healthy fit life.
Loving yourself is a great place to start, it is not a sin, and it is surely the logical place to start.  We are brainwashed by society that being proud of yourself and your achievements is a giant no-no but for goodness sake, a lot of the great, good and just plain normal things we achieve in life take effort, time, practice and persistence, so why the heck not be proud of them.  This includes but not limited to weight loss success, business success, having lovely kids, a beautiful home, or even just finding a lovely outfit that fits!  
Our reactions to life experiences are also key, so find a way of dealing with your past, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Especially the words that affected you as a kid and stick in your mind today are part of the journey.  Knowing what it feels like to be fit, healthy and happy is where you will ultimately find it easy to settle when it comes to the numbers on the scales.  Shaking past that and further down is the stuff that takes the hard, mental and physical work.  The planning of your meals, the getting out and doing the exercise.  These are the things, the work of weight loss that means people find it “too hard”.  Dealing with the issues of life is the real work of weight loss as our bodies are machines – how it processes things (food/exercise) is dependent on how we have programmed it to do so.  Reprogramming our bodies starts with reprogramming our minds and hearts.  
Walking…… this is another secret that works for reprogramming us.  By giving our bodies the time and space to do this most natural of exercise it gives our minds the time and space to move too.  Whether you walk alone, with someone else or as a group, whether it is just 10 extra parking space distance from your car to the shops, or a planned road walk, or tramp.  Moving in the air, in nature, with the wind and sun on your face and body are key to shifting your mind-set.  So move more today than you did yesterday.
And on that note I need to get up and move ……


Valerie Klein

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Million for a Million - Let's Go NZ!

As you will know I often write for  'Her Business Magazine' here in New Zealand.  The owner of this magazine is Annah Stretton, our very own Kiwi fashion guru.  I am a huge fan of Annah's, apart from being an inspiration to other women in New Zealand, this week we see her launch 'Million for a Million' which has really got me buzzing with excitement.

                           'Million for a Million' Taken Directly from their website

Being overweight often has a big impact on your general well-being and heart health. With one New Zealander dying from coronary heart disease every 90 minutes, and with the obesity epidemic hitting all ages of society, we believe it is important to create awareness around the need to take a positive step in the right direction and encourage people to lose a kilo.

The "Million for a Million" campaign aims to shed one million kilograms off the total weight of our nation. Influential fashion designer and entrepreneur Annah Stretton is heading the campaign. The inspiration for the charitable project surfaced after Annah's recent Dry July 30-day hiatus from alcohol - a stellar effort that saw her contribute to the $500,000 raised for Northern Regional Cancer and Blood Service at Auckland City Hospital.

Heart Foundation Medical Director, Norman Sharpe commends Annah on her enthusiasm to get right to the heart of the nation’s increasing ill-health and galvanise New Zealanders into action.
“Despite medical advances, heart disease continues to be the single biggest killer of our men and women because of complex changes in the way New Zealanders live, work, eat and exercise,” says Professor Sharpe. “The journey towards heart health is about making small but achievable lifestyle changes – something that I’m certain this campaign can help inspire. We’re a charity and need public support more than ever. We’re very grateful for Annah for leading this initiative and being such a positive champion for change.”

Million for a Million is supported by Zeald, Annah Stretton, Westpac, Mediaworks, Foodstuffs, The Warehouse and the Heart Foundation who are excited to be encouraging New Zealanders and their own staff to think about their health and lose a kilo for the cause.

In the words of the Million for a Million website congrats to Annah for being such a 'positive champion for change'  Let's face it New Zealand it's time we did something about the obsesity problem here.  I can't believe we are the third fattest nation in the world!  What worries me even further though and should be a wake up call for the most ardent junk food fans is that one kiwi dies every 90 minutes from heart disease!  This isn't something we can sweep under the carpet anymore.

The best thing I have done for myself in years was decide to lose weight.  I am getting close to my goal weight now after losing 19kg, I have just 2kg till my goal weight and 4kg till my 'happy' weight.  I won't pretend it's been easy, it's been anything but easy.  However I can't tell you how much better I feel in so many ways.  Physically I am able to do many more things I wasn't able to do before. The most important to me is more time playing with my children, rolling around on the floor, playing hide and side and running around.  I had got to the point where unless it was a board game I didn't want to know! 

The most surprising change that I suppose I wasn't expecting or that maybe I just hadn't contemplated was how much it would change me mentally.  I feel more confident, I smile more and I actually want to go out and buy new clothes (especially Annah's ;-) maybe even go on a date or two!!

Above all I am finally setting an example to my children that I am proud of.  Their intake of fresh food has gone up heaps and their intake of junk and processed food has become almost nil with the exception of the odd treat here and there.

There are so many support groups out there to help you acheive success.  I have tried many times in my life to lose weight and usually always failed.  The thing that was different this time?  For me it was joining weight watchers back in January.  I have found the path slow and painful but it is constant and easy to stick to (unless of course you are in Italy enjoying delicious home cooked food at your best friends wedding!!!)  I have successfully changed my lifestyle and not just gone on a diet which I think is the key. 

My Before Picture - January 2012

Now - October 2012 19KG lighter

I have also discovered the joy and help of raw eating (which you can read about in past blogs if it is something that interests you) Between these two things and a whole lot of support from family (especially my awesome parents), friends and my two beautiful girls I have made it almost to my goal.  Which proves one really huge thing for everyone else thinking about losing weight. 


I truly believe this Million for a Million incentive is a fabulous way to start your health new life.  I joined yesterday, I figure I have another 4kg to go so might as well do one of them for the heart foundation.

Go New Zealand let's lose a Million KG!!!!   Tell your friends and family and let's make a change for the better!!

Have a great day

Kate xx