Te Whare Takatāpui
I am relentless with hope.
A few weeks ago, I flew to Tāmaki with my colleagues to meet with the incredible whaea Elizabeth Kerekere. She's developed te Whare Takatāpui, a framework for the health and wellbeing of takatāpui - and of all our rainbow whānau here in Aotearoa.
Last weekend, we flew so, so many people to Ōtautahi to continue the conversation. And when I say so many - I think we had 30 people in the room, and I reckon 70% of them had travelled to be there.
That alone - I've never had resourcing like this in my career - that alone was incredible. To see so many of our friends, so many people who have spent decades and decades collectively (and some, decades individually!) working to further the health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary folk in Aotearoa come together in one room was a wonder. To see some of our younger advocates, activists, and researchers get to share space ("so many trans health researchers I know from zoom!", one said) was a healing.
We came together for a wānanga to talk about gender affirming care and te Whare Takatāpui, to develop a model of gender affirming care that we can teach around the motu, that we can include in the national gender affirming care guidelines that PATHA is updating. The mahi was important - but, as I'm finding so often lately, so was the opportunity to share space, to kōrero kanohi ki te kanohi.
The collective mana and mātauranga in that room was awe-inspiring, and I'm still a little blown away. Much was said about this incoming government, about how worried people are, about what might happen next - but we looked around at each other, saw how many we were, knew how many wanted to be there but couldn't, and remembered. The work is already underway - has already been underway - has always been done, regardless of who sits in that house, and it will continue regardless of who sits in that house.
Regulatory Impact Statements
The last few weeks feel like they've been relentlessly fast. I was blown away by how many turned up at both Toitū te Tiriti rallies in Ōtautahi - so hard to estimate numbers, but Stuff reckoned we had 1000 in Ōtautahi when Posie Parker was in Aotearoa, and this rally felt like 4x that many, easily.
I've sat and watched the news go by in shock at times at how openly villainous this government is seeming, from everything that was in the coalition agreements to their under-urgency repeal party to refusing to write or even release already-written regulatory impact statements.
Whenever legislation or regulations are introduced, a regulatory impact statement (RIS) is produced that looks at a whole range of things - how the proposal would impact on the economy, on communities around Aotearoa, on individuals, on the government's books. They're an evidence-based way of introducing policy. They're great.
In order to "get on with getting things done," as well as sitting under urgency, the Nat-coalition government has said they won't be commissioning regulatory impact statements for the first 100 days. We're flying blind for everything they're doing during this urgency process.
But more than that - they're also refusing to release draft RIS that have already been written.
On Wednesday he said the draft RIS would not be released with the bill to get rid of the policy. According to Treasury, in normal times, a full RIS is required to be released when the “relevant bill is introduced to Parliament or the regulation is gazetted, or at the time of Ministerial release”.
Instead of releasing the RIS proactively, Brown said anyone who wanted to read it would need to request the draft under the Official Information Act, meaning it is unlikely it would be released before the policy is repealed. The Government has promised to get rid of the subsidies by the end of the year.
“There was a draft RIS, there was not a finalised RIS following Cabinet decisions,” Brown said.
“You are most welcome to put an OIA in - I am sure you will receive a draft in due course under that process.
I put in an Official Information Act request three days ago. The rebate was repealed under urgency the day after. It's pretty intuitively clear what impact this repeal will have on the climate, but to know that we have evidence of this that ministers have seen yet refused to release is infuriating.
Henry Cooke has written some excellent analysis on his newsletter, Museum Street:
This stuff is often fodder for attacking Governments with. The risks that rents would go up as a result of tax changes the last Government made were mentioned countless times by the Opposition. Some risks identified by public servants end up happening, leading to even more attacks. This is the lifeblood of democracy: An informed Parliament and commentariat able to argue with not just their views and the official statements of Governments as ammo, but with the very policy papers that Ministers looked at too.
It’s hard not to assume that this is a big reason behind this move by the new Government. It knows the power of a single line of a RIS used ruthlessly in the House and attack ads, even when that single line is actually not that bad in context. It knows that public servants looking at the distributional effects of some of its policies will say things that will result in bad headlines. And it’s had quite a few of them already.
The cruelty is the point
In other news, I've had the phrase "The cruelty is the point" running around in my head after someone brought up this excellent piece again (it's not easy reading, fair warning):
This isn’t incoherent. It reflects a clear principle: Only the president and his allies, his supporters, and their anointed are entitled to the rights and protections of the law, and if necessary, immunity from it. The rest of us are entitled only to cruelty, by their whim. This is how the powerful have ever kept the powerless divided and in their place, and enriched themselves in the process.
So much of what this government are doing already seems so senseless. I keep turning to my partner and saying things like "it's not even like they're trying to hide that they're villains". And they're not - that's the point. I don't think you have to be cynical to see how much of their policy platform is driven by money and their donors - from repealing smokefree legislation and fair pay agreements to returning the 90 day trial to making housing more appealing for investors - they're in it for those who line their pockets. The cruelty is the point.
Toitū te Tiriti
But, we keep turning up. Yesterday, Ōtautahi had its second Toitū te Tiriti hīkoi. I didn't know what to expect in terms of numbers, but the crowd gathered in North Hagley Park and then filled the streets, as far as the eye could see.
Tāmariki spoke up. Tangata Tiriti spoke up. Ōtautahi spoke up, big time.
During our wānanga, in kōrero about this government and what might happen, one phrase kept repeating:
We're not going to let it happen easily. We're not going to let it happen at all.
Ka whawhai tonu mātou mō te āke āke āke!
Thanks for joining me on this, my first post on Ghost rather than Substack. I've moved over for a number of reasons - primarily it has been in response to Substack leadership's poor response to their Nazi problem. I'm also really aware of how many terfs, particularly in Aotearoa, organise on that platform - something that's got a little bit less attention (not that I've been particularly keen to bring it up too much myself - they don't need the oxygen).
It's impossible to find an ideologically pure platform - it doesn't exist. But I like being in full control of where my content lives, so I've made the shift - thanks for joining me! I'm going to be writing up a bit of a guide on keeping up with writers outside of substack (I know the amazing Nadine Anne Hura has also moved to Ghost) - but my number one tip is to grab a RSS reader app - I recommend Unread on ios, but there are lots out there - and copy and paste the writer's website into the feed. This will deliver their posts to your app, just like how the Substack app works - except you may have to click through to add comments. Anyone writing on Ghost will have a feed like this that will work!
Speaking of comments - if you're reading this on the website, you can hit the 'subscribe' button and there'll be a 'login' link for you there. If this has hit your inbox, you'll already have an account - hitting login will send you a link that you'll only have to hit once (per device) which will then let you add comments - which are always so appreciated! Comments are limited to those who are logged in, which makes for a nicer, cosier, and safer experience for everyone.
Thanks again for joining me here - I appreciate all your support!
If I don't see you again before it all happens - Meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o Tau Hou, e hoa mā!