web analytics

Poverty Watch 6

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, October 6th, 2012 - 7 comments
Categories: class war, national, poverty - Tags:

Welcome to Poverty watch, a weekly update on the National government’s lack of response to the urgent and growing issue of poverty in NZ. A lot of background issues and links are set out in Poverty Watch one two and three.

In related news this week, yesterday was a national “day of action” against the Nats’ punitive welfare “reforms”. There was a modest turnout in several centers, our very own Karol summarised the media coverage. Lunchbox Day donations are not over yet (video link), you can donate via KidsCan Charitable Trust: ASB BANK 12 3026 0348180 03.

Poverty and race are inextricably intertwined in this country. This shaming piece highlights one dimension of the problem:

Pacific Island workers languish in poverty

Pacific Island families imported to a small Waikato town with the promise of work and hopes for a better life are reportedly winding up living in poverty. The Government and local authorities are investigating reports of Samoan families living in mould and flea-ridden houses and struggling to pay for food, rent and healthcare. …

Samoan woman Lola Taulofa, 30, who works as a cleaner at Crusader Meats, has been living in a house with her sister, brother-in-law and their three young children since June, the Waitomo News reported. The ceilings and walls are covered in mould and the family have been sleeping on a pull-out couch in the lounge because of a water leak in the main bedroom. “It is very bad for our health,” Mrs Taulofa said. “The children are always sick.”

Following on from Lunchbox Day, Anne Russel published this excellent and challenging piece:

Child poverty and Lunchbox Day: philanthropy in New Zealand

… Perhaps, in an ideal world, citizens would be able to self-regulate enough to run their society entirely by charity in a gift economy, and no one would be deprived. But it has been clear for a long time that the wealthiest in our society tend to hang on to their money; poor people are in general more likely to give to charity than their rich counterparts. The areas of the brain which respond to winning and losing money are the same as those that respond to cocaine, explaining why gambling—or the stock market—is addictive. There are two sides to ending poverty; poor people need to be drawn out of it, and the rich need immediate intervention and rehabilitation.

While Lunchbox Day is careful to skirt around outright accusations (“whoever is to blame, it certainly isn’t the children”), child poverty is not something that was always as inevitable as the slow crawling passage of time. However, the pertinent question is not so much who, but what is to blame for the emergence of child poverty. John Key The Individual is neutral in the effect he can have on the world; he’s just an affable guy, as he might like to put it. However, John Key The Prime Minister is a different case. Likewise it’s National Party The Government that allows big business to wreak havoc on the economy, worsening unemployment and welfare dependency, not National Party The Morris Dancers. Institutions are to blame for child poverty; the people who fill the respective roles—be it John Key or Helen Clark—can be blamed for their complicity in perpetuating them, but many if not most of the institutions in question will outlive their careers. …

Two important ways of thinking are missing from the Lunchbox Day and Live Below The Line dialogue: contemplation and systematic analysis of inequality, and absolute fury. As far as my personal emotions are relevant to this article, ‘sad’ doesn’t feel like the right word. Child poverty makes me extremely angry, and then upset. I am furious that this society hems and haws over spending $4 million to ensure children aren’t half-starved, while defence spending clocks in at a whopping $3.4 billion a year and one-off sports events receive $300 million. I am angry that cuts to both rich taxes and the public sector go on unchecked, and that banks who fail get $1.7 billion bailouts, while mass unemployment drives parents into deeper poverty yet shames them for taking the benefit rather than starving their children. I am angry that New Zealand builds non-insulated houses to match a Western form of family, causing overcrowding and poor health among minorities, and then uses racism to explain the poor outcomes. And I am angry that privileged people are using the media to air their own stories of Poverty Lite, rather than working out ways to bring the poor forward to speak for themselves.

Click through and read the whole article – there is plenty more to think about.

Poverty Watch always ends with the following list, the National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:

• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty
• ?


7 comments on “Poverty Watch 6”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    There are unhealthy forms of anger, and there are healthy and necessary forms of anger. This article demonstrates anger at its best on behalf of the poor.

  2. just saying 2

    Thank you for this.

  3. Uturn 3

    Interesting, and I agree up to point: It sure is infuriating to volunteer for a charity looking out for the poor that’s run by a corporate model that creates poverty; under a mangement steeped in a culture that openly manipulates the goodwill of volunteers. A person wonders whether they’re just filling in the holes they’ve dug for their victims. But it’s that or happily watch them starve. Which is easy to do, if you have the luxury of distance. It’s still easy, but uncomfortable, to do when you’re close enough to be face to face. Crossing the divide intellectually, is impossible.

    But, to blame “government” leaves out an important point and trips off the edge of realisation into the generalities of who has and who has not, who’s doing what and who isn’t and who is to blame. And the indication of the blindspot is that it’s always someone else, and that fighting it makes you feel “exhilarated” as the article admits. Fury is an illusion, all emotions are, we need to keep digging for clarity and perspective. Feeding the hungry while we dig, to appease our good side, but dig none-the-less, to find our unconscious darkness – shifting it back into it’s rightful place, if possible.

    When the question of what government is remains unexamined we can’t see what it is that we’re fighting. Where does it fit into society and what role and reflection of society does it truely possesses, not just now, but throughout the history of NZ and human history in general, and not just as a piece of society, but as a snapshot of the individual. It is not hunger we are fighting, it’s millions of years of human nature. Within the context of present day NZ, there are parameters that exceed the ideas of white colonial culture and its eco-political systems and include all the apparent victims of the manisfestation of that same culture, in an equallly powerful role.

    Step back from the manifestations of action and reaction and you’ll find that you me and everyone else wants someone or something to end or die; the way we wish them to end denotes our position within a particular framework; whether you are European, from the Pacific, Asia or Africa. The reason for that is that our society reflects where we are as a collective entity, which myths we are living out and which archetypes we are simultaneously controlled by and passing through. Hard as it is to accept, the manifestation of poverty is a sympton of something we can’t fix. It’s like saying we can have a never ending day, without night. Life has two sides (two that we can see and experience).

    But it isn’t just poverty – poverty is just one of the many forms it can take. If by chance we fixed poverty, the things we call inequalites would pop up somewhere else, probably violently. We can’t remove the tension of opposites in human existence. It is being able to bear those tensions that creates life and motivates us forward.

    Now so far this sound like an apology for kids slowly starving and things continuing on the way they are. Go back to your latté, Uturn says. Forget it, nothing can be be done he says. No, Uturn does not say that. Because Uturn is not exempt from the game of life and he knows that there is an inescapable responsiblity to experience our current predicament. As far as better minds than me understand it, we have a strange irreconcilable impossible challenge as a collective. We can stand back and do nothing or we can act. But within those two choices there are two more: we can positively or negetively do nothing; or we positively or negetively act. The problem is we don’t have a choice which route we take. If I act a way you think is wrong, I am actually fulfilling my role. If you act in a way I thing is wrong, you are fulfulling yours and this also goes for the opposite good. The trick is that we must realise this is what is happening, not try to deny it. In many people, this realisation shakes the foundation of who they think they are quite drastically and dangerously. But there is dangerous danger and then there is dangerous danger that isn’t dangerous at all. Don’t let it freak you out too much. The moment of realisation itself is what decides what happens next. It cannot be forced or adjusted.

    If we were all to decide to enforce laws that made life clean and tidy, nice and equal, there would be a massive imbalance. Since most of us here are fairly caught up in European culture, since we’re online, speaking English and discussing western politics, lets call that imbalance The Negetive Mother Archetype. Other cultures have something similar. In society it would manifest in things like extremes in social welfare, authoritarian governments, violent reactions to “contradictions of the norm” and where the victim becomes the aggressor. You may remember a stark example, when George Bush told the World, You’re either for us or against us. The NMA does not reside specifically in the Left or the Right, in women or men, it appears in imbalaces of a type anywhere, any place. It demands “human sacrifice”, mutilation, oppressive acts and the blame we normally experience. It is both a distortion and elevation of a certain kind of positive power, both outside it’s place and the correct filling of a gap that must be filled. Imbalances are as necessary as balances – can’t have vacuums.

    The simple point is that fury at poverty highlights a particular place in the game. Feed the kids if you like, or don’t. Once you move toward forcing other people into doing what is not their nature, outside of their correct timeline, you’ve moved from acting positively in a postive way to acting positively in a negetive way under the force of the NMA. The elevated NMA demands absolute loyalty to the cause, ends in destruction, but once it has taken down itself, spectacularly and painfully (think the horrors of World War Two), new life begins. It’s a primitive way of thinking that we seem to have forgotten still holds us, behind our Ipads and electronic notebooks. We are sophisticated morons, in a sense. There is more to life’s intractable problems than Left wing political solutions, glib theory and slogans. So tread carefully, whatever you do.

    [There it is in laymans terms, I bow to anyone more educated than me that can adjust, refute or extend the gaps and simplifications.]

    • Chin up Uturn, all those balanced answers are there, don’t forget that.

    • just saying 3.2

      I could say more but I’m choosing to say nothing more…..in a positive way.

    • Jokerman 3.3

      “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
      Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”


      “If I give all I have to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

      -Nor were we of those
      Who fed the indigent;

      But we used to talk Vanities with vain talkers;

      -Surah 74: 44, 45

      “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

      (last day tomorrow-Spidey)

  4. Bloody well said Anthony.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    3 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    4 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    4 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    4 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    5 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    5 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    5 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    6 days ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    6 days ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    6 days ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    2 weeks ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago