Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Confession time - I'm an activist. That's right - an activist.

The whole activist thing has crept up slowly on me - but after this last week I have to conclude that I'm now there - full blown activist!

Let me explain. Here in NZ we have a primary teachers union called NZEI and I'm an active member. Briefly the structure works like this. Each school has a worksite rep who reports to the local branch. Each branch has a District Council that it reports to - there are 12 of these throughout NZ. I'm DC Chair for my DC. Each DC meets around 4 times a year to discuss issues and policies etc. We also plan and run professional development seminars for teachers (and principals, support staff and early childhood educators).

Then, once a year, we have our Annual Meeting where representatives from branches and district councils (and the Maori equivalent) meet in Wellington to debate, endorse and plan. We represent around 49,000 people in our union.

This year we celebrated 125 years of our union (complete with birthday cake) as well as debating an organisational review, rule changes, policy amendments and resolutions. Every representative there can participate in the debate and for the first time I got up to speak - twice! Very scary - first time spontaneously, the second time I had written and re-written what I wanted to say. (I stand to oppose this resolution ... )

The thing about being an activist is that you actually look at the issues/policies/resolutions etc - you research them and you make informed commentary on them.

New Zealand is in the build up to a general election (we do it very differently to the USA buildup) and, unlike previous elections, I will be scrutinising what the various parties are actually saying - I know I'll vote Labour/Green - (ironically our Labour colours are RED and National colours are BLUE) - but I will be informed and will debate with candidates when and where possible.

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