'Face up' to issues call

New Zealand's social, environmental and economic problems are too big to ignore, members of an Otago-based group calling on politicians to ''face up'' to the issues say.

A formal launch of the Appeal to Parliament will be held in Dunedin on March 8, to which all political parties have been invited.

Emeritus Prof Sir Alan Mark, of Dunedin, said members of the Green, Labour and Maori political parties had confirmed their attendance, and all other parties had acknowledged the invitation.

Sir Alan and 14 other Otago residents formed the Appeal to Parliament organising committee.

Members met regularly to discuss the wide-ranging issues faced in New Zealand and decided the time had come for an attempt at resolution.

''We had talked for some time and tried to get a fix on the many issues that are confronting society today, and felt that somebody needed to take the initiative and thought 'why shouldn't we?''' Sir Alan said.

The committee formed a statement about ''the New Zealand situation'' and circulated it among peers throughout the country, gaining support from more than 100 prominent signatories, including professors, writers, artists, former All Blacks, directors, managers and surgeons.

They included Brian Turner, Wayne Smith, Fiona Kidman, Glenn Turner, David Thom, Philip Temple, Anne Salmond, Julian Dean, Owen Marshall, Morgan Williams, Chris Trotter, Bruce Burns, Richard Langston and Anton Oliver.

Sir Alan said politicians would be encouraged to identify risks in five priority areas - economic security, energy and climate security, business continuity, ecological security, and genuine wellbeing - and form recommendations for cross-party policies. He said it was a ''huge challenge'', but an extremely important one to address.

The launch would comprise an afternoon discussion at the Otago Museum reserve from 1.15pm, as well as a more detailed debate at the University of Otago's Castle 1 Lecture Theatre from 7pm.

Hoani Langsbury, Peter Barrett, Susan Krumdieck, Russell Tregonning, Neville Peat, Tim Hazeldine and Jean Fleming were among those speaking at the event.

Sir Alan urged all people concerned about New Zealand to attend.

''Politicians are only persuaded by a large group of concerned people. We feel the issues of today are more pressing than perhaps they have been in the past, and more wide ranging,'' he said.

The future welfare of New Zealanders looked ''pretty grim'' and could no longer be ignored, Sir Alan said.

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