Humanist Society of New Zealand (Inc.), PO Box 3372, Wellington, New Zealand – Registered Charity No. CC36074
The Humanist Society of New Zealand is a Member Organisation of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
Humanist NZ Newsletter November 2022
Kia ora: From our shores we watch the unfolding of war around the globe. At the moment the Russian invasion of Ukraine occupies our screens, our reading and our sorrow. The killing of Mahasa Amini because of improper wearing of the hijab still horrifies us, and this shocking action has ignited world-wide protest. In the last few days, a celebrity chef, Mehrshad Shahidi (Iran’s Jamie Oliver), has been killed amid the anti-hijab Protests. In New Zealand we support the protests against the Iranian regime.
On a personal level, I have had good reason to be grateful for the men and women of science who have spent countless hours in investigation and research to untangle the mystery of Covid-19. The developments in vaccination and anti-viral drugs meant that when I contracted Covid this past week my experience of this disease was greatly mitigated. Because of the practice with contract tracing protocols, I was able to identify the source of infection. On Infection Day 1, the self-testing RAT Kit enabled early detection, the availability of antiviral drugs and our Health System protocols meant free delivery from an accredited Pharmacy, and by end of Infection Day 2 I was taking the 5-day course of drugs. Consequently, with being fully vaccinated and boosted, my Covid experience ended on Infection Day 8 with an absolutely negative RAT.
November monthly meeting:
Monday 7 November by Meeting and Zoom 6.30 pm
Iain Middleton: ‘Realising a Basic Income in New Zealand’
A paper presented at the September 2022 BIEN Basic Income Earth Network Conference in Brisbane.
A Basic Income (BI) is society investing in itself with a form of social security that’s unconditional, universal, periodic, cash for each and every individual member of society. Humankind is the only species on Earth who have to pay to live here. A BI is the recognition that if we’re going to make everyone pay to live, we should provide everyone with the money to live
Is a Basic Income of reasonable value, paid to all eligible adults, affordable? A close look at a Basic Income scheme reveals a means of reducing both the initial and ongoing costs. Rather than thinking of the need to raise taxes from other sources to meet the annual cost of a scheme, it is more meaningful to look at both the method and initial cost of introducing a scheme, and then at the cost of maintaining the scheme. Modelling shows that initial costs are limited to the introductory period and may be no more than several years payments but spread over a longer period, and that once introduced the cost of maintaining the scheme is minimal. Increased or new taxes may not be necessary. This counters the simplistic contention that Basic Income proposals have high annual costs that must be funded by increased taxes on other sources equivalent in value to the annual payments. For several reasons, New Zealand is ideally suited for a Basic Income scheme. A Basic Income scheme for those over 65, known as New Zealand Superannuation, has existed with little change and minimal ongoing costs since 1938. A similar Basic Income for the 18 to 64 age group is feasible and affordable. This paper looks at means of minimising costs, the progressive introduction of a Basic Income scheme, and at initial and ongoing funding.
Governments exist to ensure the collective wellbeing of all citizens of a country and not some at the expense of others. Achieving collective wellbeing requires an equitable distribution of wealth. A Basic Income is key factor in achieving this.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) require governments to maintain adequate, albeit basic, living standards for all their citizens.
Articles 22 to 25 of the UDHR outline the right of all citizens to Social Security, work, rest and leisure, and an adequate standard of living. The ICESCR, which is binding on countries that have ratified it and forms part of international law, develops these themes further. New Zealand signed the ICESCR on 12 November 1968 and ratified it on 28 December 1978. Australia signed it on 18 December 1972 and ratified it on 10 December 1975. Article 9 of the ICESCR requires states to recognize the right of everyone to social security while Article 11 requires countries to recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing, and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.
Governments do this with welfare programs, but they often attempt to minimise the cost of such programs by attempting to target welfare payments to those most in need. To do this, they have subjected welfare recipients to means testing, rigid monitoring, and other restrictions. Such targeting and restrictions may, however, be counterproductive and may work against the intent of Articles 9 and 11 of the ICESCR.
This paper looks at New Zealand Superannuation as a long-standing example of a working Basic Income programme. The funding of New Zealand Superannuation is examined in some detail to see if lessons can be learned that might be applied to an adult Basic Income for those age 18 to 64.
The problems with the existing Jobseeker Support system in New Zealand are outlined briefly and Basic Income presented as a viable alternative. Ways to introduce a Basic Income are considered together with the cost of such a programme and how it might be financed.
If you can’t make it in person, feel free to join us via Zoom:
All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public-bring a friend
Wellington Venue: Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon-upstairs
December Humanist NZ meeting: Our final monthly meeting for 2022, on a Saturday in Sunday, will be held at our President’s home in Carterton. All welcome. More details to come in the December Newsletter.
Humanists NZ – Palmerston North/Papaioea meets at 365 Albert St, Hokowhitu (Library) Palmerston North. To be in touch with this group, information is on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PalmyHumanists. Or email co-ordinator Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2022 New Zealand Skeptics Conference, back in person for the first time since 2019!
All you need to know at https://conference.skeptics.nz/
When? On the weekend of the 25th to 27th of November. An entire weekend of skeptical talks from knowledgeable, engaging speakers – running from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, and 9am to 4pm on Sunday, plus an informal meal at a local restaurant on the Saturday.
Where? Our venue for the weekend is the Tararua Tramping Club in central Wellington, just off Kent and Cambridge Terraces.
Who? We’ve lined up some great speakers to talk to us about a wide range of interesting skeptical topics.
How Much? It’s a bargain! For the low price of $99 for an entire weekend of talks, or $60 for a single day – plus a Friday evening of fun and entertainment – this is about as far from a scam as you can get!
Maori Boy Atheist by Eru Hiko-Tahuri. Eru spoke about his book at our October Monthly meeting. Your own copy may be purchased for $10 including postage.
E-mail : email@example.com to order
There are English, Māori, or French versions available.
Thanks have been received from Ministers across the political spectrum, with some of the highlights:
“It is refreshing to receive written material that is aimed at broadening perspectives, free thought, and personal individual integrity.” Hon Louise Upston and from Barbara Kuriger “thought provoking read”
Peter Bacos, Wellington Humanist NZ member, speaks most highly of Eru’s book. “It is a compelling and compulsory read for all Kiwi atheists.”
More links of interest: To watch/read /or listen:
Stuff documentary Fire and Fury on New Zealand’s own dis-information machine
Skeptics podcast on their fascinating tour of the Hamilton Mormon Temple:
Skeptics podcast on Arise Church:
Mary Ellen Warren, Napier Humanist recommends this engaging you Tube piece on 3 Waters:
What Is ‘Three Waters’ and Why Is Everyone So Angry? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2cDX9GKhd0
Another quintessential NZ publication: “No Rising of the Sheep” poems by Bill Bradford
Illustrations by Thomas Lauterbach
Published by Mary Egan Publishing, 1 November 2022, RRP $30.00
A community and trade union activist, this is B ill’s first collection of poetry reflecting his love of animals, thirst for social justice, and his concern for the environment. Drawings by Northland artist Thomas Lauterbach vividly bring the character of animals and people to life.
A Review by Marcus Hobson
One of the great advantages of reading poetry collections is that there is no need to start at the beginning. This volume contains stunning pencil illustrations by Thomas Lauterbach and so there is a strong temptation to flick through the pages. As I did, my eye was caught by the title of one poem; Sheepworld. I was instantly transported to a venue in the Dome Valley, just north of Warkworth. A visit with my daughter, aged about five or six. The sheep, the dogs, the menagerie of small animals. I started reading there.
A great poem to begin the journey with, but what a shock it turned out to be. The poem starts as I would imagine. Bill, the aging shepherd, sheerer and sheep wrangler putting on the display for the tourists. All beautifully described in part one. But then comes the second section. Not the show this time, but the refugees, huddled together on their visit. The same spiel from Bill and the call for anyone who wants to try their hand at sheering. Forward steps a shepherd from Afghanistan. Starts the job, ‘looking full of class’ before he crumples ‘a map of misery’, ‘a grimy stream of tears soaks his greying beard’. And then the ending:
I pull him up, hug him tight
feel cold terror calm its way
through his skinny frame
beyond the stage in tiers
his friends stare straight ahead
and fill the sheering shed
with helpless silent weeping.
I would never have picked the direction that poem was about to take. I had no suspicion that we were about to leave our comfortable world behind in such an unexpected way. Suddenly I was alive to everything that was happening in the small book of verse.
One of the joys of this collection is how easily we are transported from a simple but hard life, with horses, dogs, and sheep, to one which is all about human troubles. With titles like ‘Union Meeting’ and ‘False Friend’ we see quite different aspects of life. In a short piece called ‘HR Business Partners’, Bradford parodies the trite slogans, buzz words and management gibberish that office life can often throw at us. Here is a great example of corporate gobbledygook:
Consider the benefits of HR in a holistic way going forward to ensure the best outcomes for a fluid and transformational workplace focused on enhancing and exposing personal limitations in a truly supportive environment.
The injustice of trying to exploit workers is strong on the page, and especially in the case of Julie, who after an unpleasant incident at the Christmas party, thinks the kindly words of the HR lady will help her. But the HR lady is being paid very handsomely by the same boss who made a pass at Julie. While Julie and her children end up living in their car, there is talk of a settlement in a year or two and the boss receives his knighthood. We leave these experiences behind to hear the secrets of processing firewood, making sure that the next winter night you spend in a freezing hut, there is enough dried firewood to last the night.
These juxtapositions of corporate and natural world are some of the great strengths of this collection, along with the simple language in which Bradford brings the scenes from his life into ours.
Imprisonment of Mubarak Bala, President Nigerian Humanist Society:
We are now nearing 925 days of the illegal detention of Mubarak Bala. Mubarak has had hardly any contact with other people for 30 months.Mubarak’s Humanist friends declare:
WE WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND FREEDOM FOR MUBARAK BALA
In the Words of Mubarak Bala: “What made me finally come out as an Atheist was a video of a beheading of a female Christian, by boys around my age, speaking my language, It hit me that the time for silence was over. EITHER SOMEONE SPEAKS OUT, OR WE ALL SINK.”
People in Trouble Africa personal communication
“We’ve successfully managed to get 2 Ugandans out to South Africa. One was in a torture chamber then thrown out & left for dead & survived but had to flee. The other was tortured in his home & threatened with death so also had to flee. Both are now safe an are awaiting their Asylum interviews (next year only)
We are also supporting 44 Ugandans women & children who fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya – thanks to private donors as they were getting 2kg sorghum per month as rations. That’s it ! Children denied schooling, all living on outskirts of camp with no electricity etc & were forced to prostitute themselves to buy food for their kids & things like sanitary pads …terrible story. We are getting weekly school work to the kids too.
One refugee saved, picked up women & kids along the way who were fleeing alone, and found more at the Red Cross camp & brought them all together & kept them safe for 9 months there. He then split them into smaller groups & slept during the day so he could watch over them at night. He didn’t know any of them before that.
But he was being stalked at night as Museveni is hunting Activists, journalists etc out of the camp & getting them back to Uganda
NZARH Rationalist House update:
On Tuesday 11th October Rationalist House goes on the market with Colliers. From Tuesday 11th October you’ll be able to view the listing on Colliers website: https://portfolio.colliers.co.nz
Our sister organisation, our friends at NZARH continue lobbying around secular education
NZARH have met with the Ministry of Education to talk about the Social Science curriculum and what’s happening with Religious Education.
The Ministry let us know that from 28 September – 3 December they’re seeking feedback on the draft of Te Mātaiaho | the Curriculum Framework. You can download the document here.
We’ve already noticed that the document on page four makes the assumption that children will have a religion, and that religion should be respected:
Te Mātaiaho supports every child to live individually, and collectively, in a society that promotes peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equity, and collectivism. It demands respect for their cultural backgrounds, their abilities and disabilities, their gender and sexual orientation, and their religion.
We will be responding to this document on behalf of the NZARH, and encourage members to review the document and also have their say.
You can complete the survey with your feedback here Survey on Te Mātaiaho | the draft Curriculum Framework. While the survey focuses on the English, maths and statistics learning areas, question 6 asks what improvements they can make to the framework overall. You can skip the other questions in the survey if you don’t have a view on them. However, we encourage you to review the document and complete the survey to ensure that young people who are not religious are fairly represented in this document.
We will keep you informed about progress with our engagement with the MoE.
Update on Religious Education Curriculum:
Correspondence from Sara Passmore
17th August 2022
Tena koe Hon Chris Hipkins MP
I am writing as Vice-President of the New Zealand Society of Rationalists and Humanists
and a representative of the 2.2 million New Zealanders who in the 2018 census stated to
have no religion.
Our organisation is concerned about the ongoing lack of non-religious voices in the
development of a religious education curriculum for our state schools, and the role of the
Religious Diversity Centre (RDC) in consulting with the Government while they exclude nonreligious representatives from participating in its work.
The New Zealand Society of Rationalists and Humanists wrote to you on 25 February 2020
raising the concern that the Ministry of Education’s broader work programme being
delivered in conjunction with the Religious Diversity Centre excluded non-religious
worldviews. In your response on 3 May 2020 you stated that our feedback about these
concerns had been passed on to the team at the Ministry to be considered as this work
In June 2020, Professor Paul Morris included some of our individual members in a survey of
stakeholders. However, we are concerned that the sample of non-religious voices in this
survey was limited, and in no way reflects that 48.5% of our population is non-religious – not
a significant minority” as claimed in the Statement on religious diversity in Aotearoa New
Zealand but the single largest belief-group in our country.
Non-religious people in New Zealand have views about how learning about religion and
belief in schools should be covered, including asking and answering life’s big questions.
Without a non-religious perspective to these questions about ethics, truth, the meaning of
life, and what happens when you die, the education of young people in New Zealand will
only present supernatural arguments for how we should live.
While we believe that religious instruction has no place in state-funded schools, we have
generally been supportive of the educational reforms to religious instruction. However, we
believe that without representation from non-religious organisations in the development of
a curriculum, and without non-religious beliefs and values being included in the curriculum
explicitly, that religious education will become religious instruction by the back door.
We have asked the Religious Diversity Centre to include one of our representatives on its
Board and met with them a number of times. However, most recently we received the
attached letter stating that the Board is selected due to their qualifications, experience, and
skills, yet they continue to have no non-religious representation. We have serious concerns
that the refusal of representation from someone who is non-religious is discrimination and
goes against the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
We once again offer the Government our help to run wider consultations with non-religious
organisations and people nationwide. This includes running consultations with Māori
atheists, ex-Muslims, the rainbow community, and those who have left high-control
religions. We have strong networks across the motu with groups and people who are not
represented by the RDC.
I can be contacted on 022 4356 117.
Nāku noa, nā
New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists
01 September 2022
Tena koe Sara,
The Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins, has asked me to respond to your e-mail of 17
August 2022 about religious educations as the matters you raise fall within my portfolio
I acknowledge that you continue to be concerned about the lack of non-religious
perspectives in the development of a religious education curriculum.
As you know, the Religious Diversity Centre (RDC) offered to support a conversation about
the place of religions in our schools. The RDC led a survey in July 2020, which formed part
of a broader research project on how teaching about diverse religions happens in other
countries. Religious, interfaith, non-religious and education representatives were
contacted to take part in this survey, including the Secular Education Network. I
understand more than a third of participants did not identify with a religion or spiritual
I am advised the Ministry of Education did note that some groups , such as Maori and
Pacific people, were under-represented in the RDC research. The Ministry recognises that
these important voices need to be explored as part of progressing further work on religion
The conversation about diversity and religion in schools is now being progressed through
the refresh of the national curriculum. One of the underlying goals of the refresh of The
New Zealand Curriculum is for all akonga to see themselves in the curriculum and
experience success in all areas of learning. Understanding diversity and how belief systems
function contributes to the fostering of an inclusive society in Aotearoa New Zealand that
reflects the histories and traditions of all its people.
I am advised the Ministry is collaborating with a range of groups that bring diverse
perspectives to the refresh work, It will ensure that religious diversity is considered
alongside other diverse perspectives including cultures, identities, values and faith.
The draft content for the social sciences learning area has been shared and feedback has
been sought from schools, organizations and agencies. Further changes to the content in
response to the feedback are currently being made, and the final draft will be available
later this year. You can find the earlier draft content at
If you are interested in discussing the social sciences learning area, you are welcome to
contact Cat Lunjevich, Principal Advisor Curriculum Design, at
firstname.lastname@example.org Cat can put you in contact with the curriculum refresh
team if required.
Thank you again for writing. I wish you all the very best.
Naku noa, na
Hon Jan Tinetti
Associate Minister of Education (School Operations)
Kia ora Cat,
As per the correspondence attached I would like to talk to someone about how we can
contribute to discussions about the religious education curriculum and also sex and
The NZ Association of Rationalist and Humanists represents the 48.2% of New Zealand who
are not religious.
We have long campaigned for the end of religious instruction in schools, and for high quality
sex and relationship education.
We know that religious organisations are often consulted on these subjects, and believe
strongly that New Zealand’s curriculum should be secular.
We support comparative religion and belief education but think this must include nonreligious beliefs and values to ensure it recognises how must New Zealanders live their live
and apply their values.
I was involved extensively in the work in the UK developing the curriculum to include nonreligious beliefs in lessons and would love to be able to contribute to the work here.
I look forward to hearing from you.