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The cost of a bowl of Weet-Bix

Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, September 16th, 2014 - 197 comments
Categories: benefits, cost of living, election 2014, poverty, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

One of the most dishonest arguments the right ever put forward on the subject of poverty is around one of the simplest things in life: a bowl of Weet-Bix.

Yesterday Nikki Kaye approvingly re-posted a letter to the editor which illustrates the dishonesty, saying in part:

I costed three healthy breakfasts: two free-range scrambled eggs on lightly buttered mixed grain toast with salt and pepper cost $1.39 and took five minutes to prepare; quick-cook porridge with a banana and a sprinkling of brown sugar cost 94c and four minutes’ time. And three Weet-Bix and milk with a sprinkling of sugar cost 55c and took two minutes … do we really want to accept that 55c and two minutes’ time is too high a threshold to expect for parents’ dedication to their children?

As I said to Kaye on Twitter:

It’s a truly heartless – and illogical – way to look at the question of why so many Kiwi kids are going to school hungry. Obviously you can’t buy milk in 100mL bottles or toast one piece at a time. And making breakfast for yourself is, I understand, a very different situation to preparing it with even one child, much less two or three, all in need of waking, clothing, feeding, and getting out the door – even with two parents around to run things.

On her Facebook page, you can see Kaye trying to walk herself back out of the nasty, judgemental tone, claiming she was just supporting a brave mum who did a great job in trying circumstances. But we all know exactly what message the right are sending when they approvingly tweet this kind of diatribe:

Poor people just aren’t trying hard enough. Poor people are just greedy and ungrateful. Beneficiaries are spending YOUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS on booze and fags. See, we need to crack down on them!

An excellent response came from @NoelZeng, who linked to this report by Auckland City Mission about the realities of life for people living in economic poverty:

Ten years ago people accessed food parcels when they experienced a crisis in their lives. Today, thousands of families rely on food banks as their regular source of food as money for food is considered to be discretionary spending by many. The increasing long-term use of the Mission’s food bank is a growing concern.

And, whilst we have an understanding of why people experience financial hardship, there is little understanding of what stops people moving out of poverty. With a prevailing opinion held by many that those living in poverty do so simply because they lack the initiative to free themselves from it, there is little impetus or pressure to address what is for many thousands of New Zealand families a desperate and deteriorating set of circumstances.

Of course the people who are already firmly stuck in the “55c and two minutes’ time!” mindset won’t be convinced by stories like the ones told in that report. There’s always something you’re doing wrong, some obvious area where you haven’t cut your standard of living down to the absolute bone.

The thing is, you can’t argue with the numbers.

Using WINZ’s online “check your eligibility” tool, I imagined myself as a solo mum with two kids, aged 4 and 5, living in Wellington, paying a (miraculous) $200 a week in rent. Healthy (thank god), not supporting sick or elderly relatives (thank god), but out of work (thanks, National) and definitely single (yes, WINZ, I’m sure, but thanks for popping up that dire warning about relationship fraud.)

End result: I may be entitled to Sole Parent Support of $299.45 per week, and possibly the Accommodation Supplement.

Unfortunately you can’t use the online tool to assess your Accommodation Support if you’re on a benefit (because what I need is some terrible web-design to add stress to my life) so I lied (typical beneficiary) and got an estimate of $72.

So my hypothetical alternate-universe solo mum self could hypothetically get $371.45 per week of your taxpayer dollars. But my hypothetical (very optimistic) rent was $200. And Otago University’s annual Food Cost Survey suggests that just to meet basic needs, I need to spend $137 on food per week – $59 for me, $44 for the five-year-old, $34 for the four-year-old.

Leaving me a princely sum of $34.45 to cover non-food groceries, transport, clothing, power, phone bill or prepay cellphone (need a phone number to look for work!), and any unexpected costs that might arise.

I literally couldn’t do it. Could you? Could Nikki Kaye?

197 comments on “The cost of a bowl of Weet-Bix”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    While the 55c for a single serving is misleading on the face of it, it is really the only way you can properly cost a meal like this (see also: Countdown’s feed 4 for under $15 meals, recently promoted “cheap eats” of food for under $2.50 a serving, etc).

    Two important aspects that are conveniently overlooked however:
    1. Multiply this for 2+ kids and it quickly becomes very expensive
    2. It’s all very well saying it just costs $1.39 for eggs and toast for breakfast, but that is assuming you actually *have* that for breakfast, and that your kids didn’t finish off all of the toast and eggs on Tuesday night when they came home from school and wanted to eat something and that’s all there was available because you only had enough money to buy a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs.

    • There may be some value in “properly costing” individual servings, but only if you do it in the context of the whole cost of things. The right never do. I would say this shows that their concern for accuracy has very little to do with actually being concerned about accuracy.

      • Ants 1.1.1

        Ok – so when I buy my two sons porridge every week, at $3.00 for a box of ten packets, and a $3.55 2-litre blue-top milk to go with it – the, 33 cents per helping for ten breakfasts is not true?

        What about how I have to get them out the door by 8am and off to kindy, showered, and bags packed, and myself all packed up and showered too? As well as breakfasted?

        Its possible for me to do that every day of the week, but for these poor Kiwi battlers its not fair to expect that of them?

        • weka

          You’re a hero mate, but I am curious as to why you think that everyone else is in the same situation as you?

        • Potato

          Firstly, $3.00 + $3.55 = $6.55. $6.55/10 = 65 cents per serve. (Add electricity if cooking in microwave, hot water, detergent for cleaning up.)
          I presume if your sons are at kindy that they are young so can be satisfied with those small serves. Mine are active teenagers so those sized helping wouldn’t get them going in the morning.
          I also assume from your statements that you are working. At least during the day you’re not at home where you’d have to use electricity for heating, making a cup of tea and heaven forbid you put the radio on.
          I do congratulate you though on one thing. Not many of us are lucky enough to have children who would would be happy just eating plain porridge for breakfast day after day. Even Nikki was adding a bit of fruit and brown sugar but then thats an added cost too.

        • ronnie

          hang on, you buy porridge every week, at $3.00 for a box of ten packets and $3.55 for a 2ltr blue top milk for your two boys? thats only five breakfasts..do you not feed them on the weekend?

      • Steven Mowat 1.1.2

        “The Right” seems to be a pet name for the rich .. so why would “the right” be concerned about costing accuracy when few of them would miss even $5.50 a head spent on breakfast

    • Mike 1.2

      The Countdown “4 for $15” promotion is a load of codswallop. I tried it, and I fed 3 for $30. That was using the cheapest ingredients. Even a jar of pasta sauce, mince, spaghetti and mushrooms set me back $17, and barely fed 3. The pasta cost $3, and I still had half a pack, so lets say 3 for $15.50.

  2. Potato 2

    Another factor that no-one ever seems to take into account when looking at the costs for low income families is the ever increasing effects of ‘planned obsolescence’ and cheap goods on the purchase of household items. Clothing, electrical items not designed to last beyond their warranty (which gets shorter all the time) and other household items means replacing goods at a speed not done by previous generations. Gosh, most fridges only have a 2 year warranty now. Most modern items are designed to be dumped (yay, more pollution) rather than repaired so also add to the financial burden.

    • Agreed 2.1


      Also, another aspect to add to your point, is the nutritional value of most of the food your regular person purchases. Not only is it effecting their health (hence potential expenditure on medicinals, doctors etc), but they eat more of it.

      Honestly, I have people remarking to me on the regular about how they can’t afford organic / spray-free food etc, yet they are happy to be in debt / hp up to their eye balls, purchase junk food and sugar laden goods (which is the majority of food stuffs these days) and generally waste money on things (not only food) that they don’t need. Also, so much of western culture has lost the knowledge to prepare food in a holistic way. We don’t bake our own bread anymore, we don’t ferment our own vegetables, we don’t sprout our own seeds. We reach for the quick and easy, straight from the supermarket, because this hyper-reality we place ourselves in, doesn’t allow time for anything else.

      Love to my brothers and sisters

    • Ants 2.2

      The problem with your argument is that the Consumer Guarantees Act provides for the fridge to last ten years if they are buying it new.

      If they are buying second hand then you would have a point.

      • Potato 2.2.1

        Fridges were merely used as an example of the shortening lifespan and quality of the goods we purchase.

      • Ott 2.2.2

        Because a brand NEW fridge is something you just acquire somehow? When you move into a flat you already have to pay a huge bond, and what is left over goes on rent and food – you’re left looking for the cheapest household items possible, especially if you are on a benefit, and have hungry kids to think about. Sure there are appliance places that accept WINZ quotes but usually those places are not selling new fridges, and even then forking out $100 for the smallest, crappest fridge is a huge expense. You can hire them from appliance companies but in the long term you end up paying a lot more, and this adds extra to your rent each week that could be an extra 3 breakfasts, or after school snacks, or pair of warehouse trainers, etc.

      • Hewn Stone 2.2.3

        Defending your consumer rights under the Act requires a degree of knowledge and confidence that might seem like common sense to some people, but it’s not.

        I’ve been very poor for the last few years, supporting 2 kids on a student allowance which is equivalent to other welfare benefits. I was able to eek a lot more from the system because I could research and understand the rules, but especially because I felt entitled to it.

        I was able to live extremely frugally because I knew it was a temporary situation leading to a future that I knew was realistic.

        It was hard, but I know that my experience was not the ‘poverty’ that is normal for lots of people, but merely ‘no money’.

  3. millsy 3

    Let them eat weetbix…I would probably go insane if I had nothing but that for breakfast lunch and tea. As a poster said on here before – concentration camp rations.

    And Nikki should know better – apoarently she was brought up by her mother who worked 3 jobs. It would have been hard in the 1990s with all those benefits and wages being cut. But given she was sent to private school so so not suprised she a nasty bitch.

    • karol 3.1

      Weetbix milk and sugar doesn’t sound like a very healthy breakfast to me.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. Then I was wondering just how many Weetbix they put into the bowl. When I was a child eating Weetbix I ate four at a time which I suspect is four times what they’re allowing for. Growing kids eat – especially when the food has less vitamins/minerals etc than what they need.

    • Olwyn 3.2

      As a poster said on here before – concentration camp rations.

      Indeed. There is something repugnant about someone who buys new shoes, eats at restaurants and blithely orders cabs insisting that bare survival is more than enough for lesser mortals. It is like the behaviour of a hen who pecks at the head of another hen who is injured.

    • Snoozenz 3.3

      How incredibly judgmental and ignorant of you ‘Millsy’ to claim that Nikki is a nasty bitch for going to a private school. I can only assume that you went to a public school and are bent out of shape for doing so?.
      I too went to a private school – the same one as Nikki in fact – and I can assure you that I am no nasty bitch. The private school must have served her terribly given the fact that she was head girl of the school and now an MP.
      Think before you type and get some creditable argument under your belt and not this bullyish playground pathetic banter.

      • Bre 3.3.1

        Big deal Snoozenz, Grant Robertson was the head boy of a public school and is a far better politician than Ms Kaye.

      • greywarbler 3.3.2

        @ Snoozenz 9.32
        The private school must have served her terribly given the fact that she was head girl of the school and now an MP.

        Do we care that she was head girl and has ‘risen’ in the political world? I don’t think that was the point of the original remark. And the fact that you think that her position in the world was the most important thing that her schooling could have led her to is really interesting.

        Private schools are often the vehicles for teaching the competitive, individualistic, money-oriented families’ children all the skills for looking after number one successfully. But not how to live and achieve well in society yet retaining respect for all, and some understanding of different life paths. Really just how to be self-serving, high-achieving snob.

        • Rebecca Leys

          As the daughter of an Anglican priest and an electronic engineer, I don’t feel my parents ere competitive, individualistic or money-hungry. Mum was actually a non-stipendary minister, which means she gave her time to her parish without receiving an income. My years of private school taught me the following things: we regularly collect for many charities. Being mean to others is totally uncool, and will get you rejected by your peer group. Treat others respectfully. Support and encourage others, and include those who are left out. We need to work together, in group settings, and cooperate. People can achieve in many different ways – cultural, sporting or academic. Money is not important. Developing and using your abilities IS important.
          In fact, the enrichment programme offered at my school – Philosophy for Children – was the beginning of my life-long love of the topic of ethics.
          I just wish every child in NZ could access that sort of education. It’s a grave social injustice that they can’t.

      • Greg 3.3.3

        Was that the three weetbix for breakfast private school?

    • Monique Rhodes 3.4

      I just have to reply @millsy.
      Let me be clear I’m not a National Party supporter.
      But Nikki Kaye is my friend. And I am proud she is my friend because I have seen her do so many good things for people with a good motivation and heart.
      You may not agree with what Nikki has said about a particular matter. But it’s easy to sit behind a pseudonym and say unkind things about someone you don’t know. It seems to be the way of the world right now.
      Please, disagree, by all accounts. But your personal unkindness isn’t necessary.
      We all want a better world for our children.
      Maybe we can be the example to them first.

      Go gently in the world millsy

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.4.1

        She means well?

        The banality of evil on display.

      • Rosetta 3.4.2

        I don’t know Nikki and don’t wan’t to say any thing nasty about her but would like to know has she ever been on a benefit or low income I am a widow on Benefit with 1 teenage son due to my health I am unable to work. I have been on both sides I have gone from being a wife with 3 kids and both my husband where working and making good money. I have never been a drinker or taken drugs other than prescription drugs from my doctor. And my kids never went with out they had a variety of choices for breakfast and always had at least 5 things in their lunch box.

        Know I am lucky that my oldest 2 have grown up and left home as my income has decreased by 65% having to go on a single parent benefit and even though I get accommodation, disability and Temporary additional support I only get $510 a week Take away $ 300 rent I am left with $210 for food, phone, power,petrol, doctors and med’s. So until someone has lived in my shoes for 6 months to a year then may be I might take their advice

        It is strange how all the healthy good food is so expensive yet the junk food is so cheap, what gets us through is the fact I do a lot of Baking, I have access to a community garden and I live on an orchard so in summer get plenty of fresh fruit that i bottle and freeze for winter but not many are as lucky as me

      • Dilly 3.4.3

        @ Monique Rhodes: Thank You.
        These are the kind of responses to adversity we need to be teaching future generations, respond with love, caring and kindness. We never know the full story of anybody else, no matter the situation..
        Love and Light (and I hope your example is noticed by others who can be helped by your message)

      • greywarbler 3.4.4

        @ Monique Rhodes 4.50
        When a person is in a position with some status and power and is unkind, they are very likely to be spoken of unkindly. If she can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen, or change her menu.

        A person who speaks out strongly against unkindness should have the comment considered whoever they are, a friend of the unkind person, or not. It is the action that is at fault not the identity of the commenter. Try to be objective in this matter.

        • Monique Rhodes

          @greywarbler To speak out against a person who speaks out against unkindness in an unkind fashion, in this case a personal attack, seems like a completely objective response to me. It’s so easy to personally attack others from the comfort of the disguise of your computer. If millsy wants to make personal attacks maybe she/he should come out from behind their computer so we too can “objectively” judge what sort of person they are. Could be interesting…

          “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” ` Gandhi

          • weka

            What difference would knowing someone’s RL name make to the content and meaning of their comment?

      • Bakes 3.4.5

        Great post. While we may not agree with each others ideology, there is not cause for name calling. I see alot of moaning from behind computer screens and in chat forums like this. I really hope these people are out helping in the community and walking the talk, because love them or hate them, politicians have chosen to work for the public good, however that is defined. There is enormous sacrifice and a general lack of appreciation of that sacrifice. Nikki is a smart woman. She could have been a laywer or a banker in an instant. She has chosen to work in our service and that at least deserves the good grace of some respect. And no, I’m not a national voter or supporter.

        Also, to the hardline left haters. Name calling wont advance your cause one bit, it will only reinforce the stereotype some to the right of the political spectrum have.

    • Paulette 3.5

      Well if she did go to private school and her mother WORKED 3 jobs thats awesome, she wanted her child to have a good education and she WORKED for it. And as far as $300-$400 for DPB, that is total utter crap, 20 years ago it was over $500 a week for one child with all the other “extras, family benefit/support etc” that you get from WINZ, I know this first hand, me being a solo mother with one child, left in a mountain of debt, having a job which paid $32k a year which apparently was “good pay” in those days left me with absolutely nothing every week, I got less take home than my sister who was on DPB with one daughter. I had to totally budget for absolutely everything, I would have been financially better off on DPB and would have had a Community Services Card, of which I was denied due to my supposed “high income”. I had to scrape money together to pay for doctor’s fees. I was locked into a mortgage that was supposed to be for two income earners, did not have a car, had to use public transport but I managed, kept my job and stuck at it to overcome my situation.

  4. Delia 4

    Free range eggs eh Nikki, you are a little treat..try buying free range for eight kids.

    • leftturn 4.1

      8 kids ?… why do u have 8 kids?

      [Stephanie: Because she does. Comments implying people shouldn’t have children, or deserve to live in poverty because they have children, will be deleted.]

      • Paulette 4.1.1

        I also agree, 8 kids, if you cant afford to feed why breed? Yes of course we are entitled to, I would sure be raking in the DPB and family support then, do the figures, for uneducated people breeding is the best pay they will ever get! I dont get PAID to raise my kids, I pay to raise them, what is wrong here?????

    • DrJuan 4.2

      [Stephanie: I will not have judgemental crap about people’s children in this thread.]

      • Delia 4.2.1

        The point I am making drearyhead is there are families with eight kids. I have one child. Some maybe widowed, whatever, the kids are here, they are living breathing people. These comments has the Standard been taken over by National trolls?

      • Delia 4.2.2

        What is so special about you. Can’t stand your kind looking down on others, while you feed your face. are you obese like half the National MPs…I know I sound nasty but I spoke with single mothers who study last night and they really despair trying too feed their kids properly. Weetbix has no nuitrional value, it is a ghastly food. You make value judgements, I am married and have worked on and off for 38 years. My husband always works. Try caring for others, you might feel better about yourself.

  5. keith ross 5

    I was for a along time managing restaurants and cooking for a living, and when you cost a meal you must also include the cost of everything like electricity and other hidden costs. As in this case these would be the cost of obtaining the food (transport to the supermarket) and wear and tear on the tools used. There is also the clean up, dish washing liquid, sponges and heating for the water, the cost of tea towels and I could probably go on and on but I am sure that you get the idea. These lines that Nikki throws out sound good to an ill informed low information person but they are no way reflective of the reality for many family’s out there today. I am sure that Nikki has no idea of the decisions that have to be made by people every day when she is one of the privileged of our society. Blame the poor and give the middle class someone else to focus on with their dissatisfaction of the current economic conditions rather than the real culprits.
    A truly concerned citizen.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1


      It’s all the generalised costs (Power, transport, etc) that people miss when doing simple cost comparisons like this.

      • s y d 5.1.1

        You know this is all so much hypothetical posturing.
        My heartbreaking and totally depressing direct experience (as a contractor to HNZ) is that for many many children and families there is literally nothing in the cupboards.
        There is no salt or pepper to put on the fabulous free range eggs.
        There is no sugar to sprinkle on the magical weetbix.
        There is no banana to slice over your pretend porridge.
        There may be one old pot, a couple of cracked bowls and a spoon or two. A odd selection of cans of mysterious contents, some stale old bread, teabags, maybe a box of mustard powder and not much else.
        It is hard to describe the feeling of opening cupboard after empty cupboard.
        I guess after a while everything runs out and cannot be replaced.
        But it always annoys me to hear the middle class mums challenge themselves to eat for a week on $50 (or whatever notional sum they devise). Try it for 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 years and see where you end up.

        • Middle class mum

          Hey, as a middle class mum, who has challenged myself to live on hardly anything for a week. No I didn’t need to do it, I could have found the extra money and I didn’t have to do it for long. I don’t think it is a bad thing for someone to do. What it did for me was to open my eyes, just a little bit, to how hard it is for people. I only did it for a week and, like you say, others have to do this as a lifestyle. It has made me more aware and makes me want to help, do what I can. People, like me, could just go through life thinking, “Whatever, if you don’t spend your money on smoke and alcohol, you would be fine” But I found out that isn’t true. With $50 a week to feed a family of 5, you can’t afford smokes and alcohol, let alone fresh fruit, organic eggs. You make your choice, do you want eggs or weetbix this week. The week that weetbix are on sale for $4, you miss it because milk and bread were more important. Anyway, from doing this I have made a conscious decision to lower my weekly grocery spending and use that extra money to donate to a local food bank. I am not trying to promote how wonderful I am, I am just trying to point out that us middle class mums who try to live on a lower budget for a limited time is not a completely bad thing and I don’t think anyone ever thinks that because they have “tried it for a week” they know what it’s really like. I don’t, but I had a taste and now I want to help if I can.

  6. Ad 6

    This post is worth all the DotCom froth piled together.

  7. Tracey 7

    If Kaye is right, she won’t object to the Government funding breakfast in schools? Such a small outlay for enormous societal benefits for the children (health, learning…)

  8. Robin 8

    It is not only Kids. I am retired on Super, still I decided not to put my feet up but continued to work, which means a lot of traveling. I am never home. Early this year I thought, maybe time to stay home and live on the Super I paid for all my life. It became a sickening night mare, the poverty payments went nowhere. When rent, utilities, and medical expenses are paid, you are left with fast-food specials and $5 Fish and Chips. Transportation, buying a car, is totally out of the question, leave alone the cost of petrol and running costs. Health starting to go downhill, so I am back at work, eating well, and enjoying life, but no longer in New Zealand. NZ feels disgusting.

    • Tracey 8.1

      …and people are voting national cos they “like where the country is heading”.

      My heart and vote goes out to you

  9. Craig Glen Eden 9

    So lets do a deal aye with the incoming Government who ever they might be. Until such time as we have full employment with a livable wage Nicky Kaye can feed the Nation’s Children because clearly she know’s how to and she can do it for cheap.

    Nicky Kaye for Camp MUM! Oh forgot to say the wage for this position is of coarse the current benefit for a single person because after all its frugal times and its enough to live off what more does she need.

  10. fambo 10

    I’ve been earning just above the minimum wage for the past eight years and I can tell you it is not enough to get by on. The real killer is needing to go to the dentist and not being able to afford it. When you are walking around with an aching tooth and you have to wait weeks and maybe months before you can pull the money together to go to the dentist – that’s when you really, really feel poor. Money has been tighter on a minimum wage now, than when it was when I was a uni students in the mid 80s and on the unemployment benefit in the late 80s. People who have never been there, simply don’t get it.

    • Craig Glen Eden 10.1

      frambo I know it was a Joke at Kaye and National and all the people who think being a on a benefit is a lifestyle choice. I know its very hard being on the benefit or a minimal wage. A living wage is so important. I should have put Sarcasm in brackets.

      • fambo 10.1.1

        Hi CGE – my comment was just a general one of the challenges that people on a low income face every day &:-) I’d actually like to see some sort of help made available for people on low incomes who need dental work, even if it was only a scheme where the government lent the money to people. I don’t think any of the political parties have this on the agenda yet.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          Dental care is extremely important you are right as it affects digestion/chewing and therefore over all health. Dental care needs to be affordable absolutely.

          • weka

            get rid of student loans (so dentists can offer lower fees to low income people), and make essential dental care part of the public health system.

            • Tracey

              I dont understand why, even if we feel we have to have student loans, we cant offer no loans to those in certain professions like teaching, dental and medicine who then agree to go where posted for 3-5 years post graduation.

              • Francis G

                It would be great to see a return of bonding schemes. They’re a win-win for the country and student, as the students don’t get weighed down with debt (and have a guaranteed job for at least 3-5 years), while the country has guaranteed employees to fill positions.

                • weka

                  but, but, individual freedom!!

                  • Richard McGrath

                    What’s bonding got to do with individual freedom? No-one is (or was) forced to enter a bonding scheme.

                    • McFlock

                      No-one is (or was) forced to enter a bonding scheme.

                      you might want to double check that, even if you don’t believe in economic duress.

                    • Richard McGrath

                      McFlock, you are talking about historical indentured labour in other countries centuries ago, which is subtly different to voluntary bonding for people in tertiary training courses in modern day New Zealand.

                      And for lprent’s benefit, here is a reference for that comment:


                    • McFlock

                      My apologies, I did not know we already have a bonding scheme.
                      Sorry, had. The scholarships are now removed, according to your link.

                      So now we merely have the argument of economic duress. Do you accept that it exists, i.e. that one can be forced by economic necessity into making choices that result in bonding? I.e. choosing bonding over living in an environment that statistically would know 20 years off your life?

                    • weka

                      Weren’t all primary school teacher graduates bonded, back in the day? (that would be the day well before anyone thought up student loans).

                    • Richard McGrath

                      McFlock: “Do you accept that it exists, i.e. that one can be forced by economic necessity into making choices that result in bonding?”

                      ‘Force’ would probably be too strong a word to use, but yes, I agreee that signing up to a bonding scheme is usually quite financially attractive while having a number of downsides.

                    • McFlock

                      nice dodge.
                      The trouble is that if the “attractive” side is “the only way of having enough money to avoid an early death”, there is a danger that the “downsides” could be equivalent to slavery.

              • greywarbler

                A great idea Tracey for those who want to accept bonding. Often it was to go to outlying areas which ensured that they had a supply of trained people to fill the jobs there, and the new students got experience and spent time in the regions usually. while they worked out their few years of bonding. They had experience and no time to lose their skills while being unemployed.

          • Richard McGrath

            I agree that dental care is unaffordable to many Kiwis. Not helped by protectionist policies that shut out competition. I use a dentist in Bangkok – excellent service at a third of NZ prices. Even with air fares and hotel prices factored in it is far cheaper than NZ. A medical colleague used a dentist in India (where he was born) and paid 5% of what he was quoted in Australia for the same treatment. The sooner the market in dentistry is opened up, the more affordable it will become.

          • greywarbler

            Dental care is necessary even more so now that research has shown how it can affect whole body health. Google would tell more. But I have heard it discussed on radio.

          • Molly

            Unattended dental work can also lead to heart disease… another long term consequence of being unable to afford high dental costs for small problems.

        • Dan

          There is help for people needing dental treatment and on low income. I have used it several times

          • JS

            $300 per year and good luck in getting it! WINZ tell beneficiaries to go to the hospital and have the offending tooth removed – even if it only needs a filling. Too bad if it’s a front tooth!

            Even with the necessary paper work – usually costing $100 for the initial dentist appointment – the WINZ worker will usually find some way of declining most of the $300 as their bonus payment is dependent on how much money they decline to those in need.

            Then – missing the perfectly treatable front tooth – the beneficiary is supposed to get a job?

        • Karen

          Hi fambo
          If you are on a low income you can go to winz for assistance with dental work and food grants. If you qualify for a special needs grant you would not have to pay back the first $300 of any dental bill, and could pay off the remainder in small weekly payments. If you are in a city, there are places you can go to low cost or free dental work e.g the Peoples Centre and public hospitals

        • Mumof2

          WINZ provides an emergency dental grant, whereby they give you $300 towards the cost of the dental treatment, and the remainder is loaned to you, to be paid back at a rate you can afford. I received this to pay for a $1200 root canal, and repaid the $900 over a year.

        • gypsy queen

          A better scheme would be to go to the dentist and then send the account to the Govt who would pay dentist directly.

  11. Sirenia 11

    To get one of New World ‘little shops’ you need to spend $40. Many people never spend that much at once – they just don’t have it. So those who have got some little shops they don’t need, please try and find a child to give them to or perhaps consider donating them to a local low decile school. They are really popular and kids actually play with them.

    • weka 11.1

      what’s a little shop?

      • Tracey 11.1.1

        it’s a gimmick used by New World to get our children into the swing of consumerism at a very young age. It consists of tiny/miniature versions of stuff you can buy at New World…

        Baby weetbix boxes, huggies, dove body wash and so on…

        You can probably tell from my post I am not a fan BUT I now shop at New World cos it’s NZ owned

  12. So, to add some context (warning – anecdata incoming)

    At 15, if I had weetbix, it would be;
    – 6 weetbix
    – 1 apple, chopped to bite sized bits
    – 1/2 pint yoghurt (the thicker the better)
    – 1/2 pint milk

    Not sure how much this cost – but I’m guessing that it cost more than $0.55c per serve … 30 years ago.

    By the time I was 17 – the weetbix really wasn’t doing it – so had to replace the weetbix with muesli – and not the shitty sugary stuff that seems to make up the majority of the muesli that you find in the supermarket – a proper alpine muesli.

    Muesli is expensive, particularly if you make it yourself and put all the good shit in there;
    – organic rolled oats (recommended option: toasted with honey and molasses)
    – THE 3 seeds (pumpkin, sesame and sunflower)
    – nuts (cashews, or peanuts if the price of cashews gives you a heart attack)
    – additional bran and wheat germ, coconut etc. …
    – dried fruits (apple, raisins, dates, apricot etc.)
    Even 30 years ago – that’d be at least $1.50 per serving – but as a growing young man, it’d keep me from being hungry for about 4 hours – not quite to lunchtime – but at least you wouldn’t be looking for a second breakfast by 9.30 am

    The thing with growing kids is that yes, you can fill them up with weetbix or potato if that’s all you’ve got, but they won’t thrive and develop properly without loads (really, tons) of protein, good quality complex carbs, and all the additional minerals and vitamins you find in seeds, nuts, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and good quality fats (olive oil, flax seed oil etc.)

    If you had the choice (read: could afford to), and you chose to only feed your kids only 3 weetbix and a splash of milk for breakfast everyday – I would consider that child abuse – you are starving the child of the building blocks they require to properly develop physically and mentally.

    A minister advocating for a dietary regime that is by design malnutritious to me is one of the more ignorant things I’ve heard a minister say recently – and there has been a surfeit of choice.

  13. Rob 13

    …and you are also assuming that the father is not contributing his share either.

    • Try reading the post, Rob, I clearly specified that the scenario I used was that of a solo mother with no partner. As I was raised by a solo mother with absolutely 0 input from my biological father, I think I’m quite entitled to make that assumption. It’s my thought experiment.

    • Awww 13.2

      If you are on a benefit and raising children any monies paid by the non custodial parent are received by the IRD to offset the benefit. It would be benefit fraud if the non custodial parent paid the beneficiary.

      If you failed to name the non custodial parent without good reason you are penalised by $28 for each child. Adds up to extreme hardship even if just one child is involved (at one stage there were over 20,000 parents who were in this situation, but the numbers are smaller now given that they now accept threats to attack or kill you or your children if the non custodial is named as a good reason).

      • Casey 13.2.1

        My daughters father refused to sign the birth certificate application so we get penalized and he gets off scot-free. I named him but it doesn’t count unless his signature is on the birth certificate application.

      • Tincan 13.2.2

        Actually it is not benefit fraud to receive child support payments directly. Or at least it never was 7 years ago when I was in that boat. It is just that the government prefers to collect the child support payments to off set the benefit (as you have rightly pointed out). But if the custodial parent gets the child support paid directly to them, not only will their benefit be docked by the $28/week that you have mentioned, they will also face having their additional entitlements such as accommodation supplement or temporary additional support cut. So they basically end up worse and worse off. So many would then choose the option of having the other parent pay child support to IRD>

        • anon

          The $28pw deduction mentioned by Aww and Casey is when the Mum on a benefit does not name the father which is different from the income deduction a Mum would face if she received child support payments directly from the father.

          Child support received directly is considered income treated as such i.e. anything over $100.00pw affects the benefit rate. But yes any income affect rates of accommodation and temporary additional support. I don’t know if you’d always end up worse off?? What happens is that if the government receives the child support from the other parent, Mum doesn’t have to worry about child support payments not coming through on time and their benefit would be paid in full each week, and it (child support) goes towards the government cost of paying a single parent benefit. If the child support is income, it is also going towards paying a single parent benefit – just a different method of how it’s done.

          It would be more beneficial for a sole parent to receive child support directly if the child support is more than the benefit rate. This is because if it was paid to IRD they’d pay the normal benefit rate no matter how much child support they received. But if the beneficiary received it, she would be much better off as the income cut out point is $585

          Just as a side point Casey if you’re still in that situation you can go to a lawyer (see if you can get some advice from CAB about pro bono lawyers in your area) and ask the lawyer to contact the other parent on your behalf to sign the birth certificate. If you show Work and Income proof that you have taken legal action against him, they remove the $28 deduction.

  14. hoom 14

    I want to see some of these self-righteous rich fucks actually live for 6mths on a benefit with no other means of support & see how fucking ‘easy’ it actually is.

  15. Nicola 15

    fantastic article the only flaw is that you forgot to add the about $162 WFF you would be entitled to per week. Yes you get WFF while on a benefit while many assume given the name it’s only for the working it’s not. However factor in power, clothes, phone, WOF/REGO’s etc etc you may need to pay it’s very very very tight.

    • lprent 15.1

      From memory the circumstances are limited. You cannot if you are receiving a parenting benefit like the dpb. You can if you are a superannuiant and looking after grandkids. You can’t in many other fostering situations. You can’t on unemployment. Etc.

      Ask the IRD as hearsay says that it is usually a waste of time asking WINZ these days. Paula Bennett…

      • Robin 15.1.1

        This thread is all really a rude awaking for me, and filling me with disgust. Since almost 20 years I work as a photographer internationally and travel easily 11 months a year, now I receive Super, but by continuing to work instead of sitting back and living off benefits, I get penalized with reduced Super and no benefit access because I am outside New Zealand more than 6 months. OneNews had a story of a woman who got her Super docked as her husband received “Pension” from overseas. A colleague journalist dug into this, and it turns out that her husband is not receiving any pension at all, what he is receiving is return on a Kiwi Saver type fund investment he paid into all his life. That the state of New Zealand is confiscating old people’s savings fills me with utter disgust. At the same time I hear now that if the former husband of a woman with a child provide money for them to live better, that money is confiscated. It seems all about “screw you”, to pay taxes is not an option, but getting something back……No wonder some WINZ staff has been treated as in the Ashburton case, and that is not fair either. New Zealand is becoming as the IS, Islamic State.

        • Richard McGrath

          I agree that is disgusting Robin. People should not be penalised for making provision for their retirement. But try telling that to the heartless sadistic bastards at the IRD.

          • Robin

            In this case it is the WINZ, and more so the rules they are following. We need changes, to the rules more than anything, and to the application of the rules, but how to get there. People like this don’t have 100,000 lying around to fight this through the courts.

    • Awww 15.2

      You can get FTC added to your benefit and this would happen automatically.

      You can’t get WFF unless you work over 20hours/wk and elect to no longer receive a benefit.

      Even with FTC it is almost impossible to eat as the Otago University Food study recommends but this is not limited to beneficiaries.

      The Otago study is recognised as credible and is based on a healthy and varied diet. There are different rates for different regions in NZ and three levels (“basic” which is the cheapest option is considered difficult to achieve over the long term).

      Nikki on the other hand has taken an isolated meal and to to convey that the real problem is with parents.

    • DreamingOfIncome 15.3

      I wish my WFF was as high as $162!! I get a ‘generous’ $32/week for my toddler from the government. We (yes we, it is hubby and I here) are not ‘entitled’ to anything further.

      • anon 15.3.1

        Hi dreaming, it’s probably because your income is actual and not imagined. Me and my husband can’t get any FTC :/

  16. zombie 16

    I have little sympathy really.. yeah that’s not muchange to live on.. but I know of someone on a benefit getting more a week with her two kids than my husband gets working. With $680 a week.. half of that rent.. how is that not survivable? Every week she’s asking for handouts from people. Yet here I am.. planning a family and having to return to work straight away so I can afford to feed my family, and hers too!

    • Unless you are very intimate with every detail of this person’s life, I doubt you’re in a position to say precisely how much she is receiving, why she is receiving that amount, or what her actual financial circumstances are.

      Everyone who wants to justify cutting benefits or hating beneficiaries has their own story about this person who they know who is totally a bludger, honest they are. But the reality is that WINZ make it incredibly difficult even for people who have lifelong, chronic illnesses to access enough support to live on.

      If you’re so certain that this person is getting more than they’re entitled to, here’s the WINZ dob-in line. You can even remain anonymous. But I suggest you be very, very certain about exactly what you know compared to what you’re assuming about someone else’s life.


      • weka 16.1.1

        Shit Stephanie, please don’t do that. WINZ are obligated to investigate all serious dobbings and that creates hell for the beneficiary.

    • Paulette 16.2

      I think you are right for sure Zombie, and they can even get more when they claim hardship if they have a lot of bills, credit cards etc that theyve worked up. They are allowed to own a home and if their mortgage is high that goes on “special benefit” on top of their weekly, then their FTC and Accomodation benefit, FTC is $80-$90 per week per child, plus they get a Community Services Card which is worth an awful lot per year when you add up the medical expenses you and I have. I had the same thing people I know getting PAID to raise their kids and me raising mine and WORKING to raise them, I could only afford to have two children unless I was to become a beneficiary! I am a solo mother.

      • tricledrown 16.2.1

        paulabenett low income workers can claim hardship benefits and community services card as well !
        as well as working for families facts right please!

        • Paulette

          Excuse me, my facts are damn well right! if you read correctly I applied for a Community Services Card AT THAT TIME and my earnings for one adult with one daughter were too high! I was struggling because when my husband left I was in massive debt, the DPB was higher than my take home income, I was taking home around $500-$550 a week in pay AT THAT TIME, the DPB together with its “supplements” was the same cash amount but with Community Services Card made it higher than what I was taking home. My daughter is now grown with her own children (not collecting any benefits) and I still am raising one son who is in High School now and will also not be raised to be on a benefit. There was no Working for Families in existence at that time yet the people on DPB could still earn and can still earn $100 on top of their benefit without even losing a cent! Get that, work a few hours a week and take home hundreds! If benefit earners think they’re getting paid to raise their kids I still have to raise my children, I still work, cook, clean etc – where’s my extra pay for doing all that and working?????

  17. Doug 17

    you forgot about the $157 per week from working for families

    [lprent: You don’t get WFF when you are on a Sole Parent Support. Did you read the post? If you think that isn’t correct, then quote and link to the correct part of the IRD site. Like this…


    In the meantime I’m going to plan to find all astroturfers repeating that line and ban them for a year. This is the 4th one I have seen repeating that lie.

    You are banned for a year for astroturfing a lie (unless of course you can demonstrate that the link above is incorrect). ]

    • Doug 17.1

      If you read the link you provided me correctly it says and i quote “If you receive any of these benefits, you are only entitled to family tax credit”


      FTC or family tax credit is $157 per week.

      “Family tax credit (FTC) is paid regardless of your source of income”

      [lprent: You’re getting closer to a valid technique that doesn’t mean unsubstantiated assertions of fact.

      But what you haven’t shown is what was your original assertion. Why is it in *addition* to the money from WINZ? We won’t worry about the question about why this is so hard to find out.

      At least we’re teaching some poor cretins to think tonight. I’ll keep dumping the non-relevant comments until I see something of more than high enough to be worth letting into the debate.

      Incidentally I still haven’t bothered to look this up myself apart from ascertaining that the new name for the family benefit is usually paid by WINZ directly to beneficiaries in their benefit. It is a layer down on the link I provided. That is what the click thing on the mouse is for..

      Who can get it

      You can get a family tax credit from us if your main family income is from:

      salaries or wages, or self-employed earnings
      a student allowance, or
      NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension.

      If your main family income is from income tested benefits, you can get family tax credit (FTC), usually paid by Work and Income with your benefit, and in some circumstances you may prefer to have Inland Revenue pay your FTC.

      The point is that if you assert a fact then you damn well need to say why. And link to something that others can check.

  18. Iain Thorpe 18

    Be fair, Stephanie, the comments here are full of assumptions about other people based on little or nothing apart from prejudice. Who earns what. What things cost. Who is a ”fuck”. Who is “blithe” etc. But the only one you pickup is the one that happens to be inconvenient for your argument. Surely the point is that if someone on a benefit somewhere has enough to live on, then good, but it’s not like that for everyone.If people on low incomes are not getting as much as a benefit then they need higher wages or less tax. There doesn’t have to be a competition. Things like free dental care and food at school won’t only help those on benefits. I also agree with comments about free tertiary education. It is vital for social mobility and making sure that the people with a big say in running the country (or some of them) know what it’s like to be poor.

    • Unfortunately for you, Iain, I make no apology for calling out bigoted, trolling stereotypes about beneficiaries, nor for failing to respond to every single comment in the way you’ve decided I should.

      • Iain Thorpe 18.1.1

        Well, instead, let me apologise to you for making wrong assumptions about what you are trying to achieve. That looked to me like someone you might be able to persuade to agree with you.

  19. Alex 19

    You banned my husband for saying about WFF being $157 per week.

    read that page you linked again…


    “If you receive any of these benefits, you are only entitled to family tax credit”


    “Family tax credit (FTC) is paid regardless of your source of income”

    It is not a lie, you are lying by blocking the comment.

    [lprent: *sigh*. The reason I provided a link was to show that is what your idiot husband should have done.

    Your husband asserted something. He didn’t provide a link to prove what he was saying was true. He was also about the 4th or 5th person to do so that I have seen in the past few days to do so. That was what he got banned for. I refer to that as astroturfing because it is the usual technique of building a non-factual myth that “everybody knows” (the type so beloved of talkback hosts and the dumber end of the bloggers).

    If you want to comment on this site then it is your responsibility to present evidence to support your assertions of facts. Amongst other reasons, it is something that I insist on so that I don’t get sued for “publishing” your facts that are defamatory about people. If someone makes me liable by reason of their behaviour on this site, then I prefer to have the irresponsible fool off the site.

    Stephanie in the post asserted something. She told you *exactly* how she came to that conclusion. If you want to dispute those facts, then you can’t just pull it out of your navel hair. You either express it as your opinion, or you damn well exert some effort to find the contrary facts. He didn’t and apparently neither have you.

    While people may be entitled to the amount you are claiming, it seems far more likely that as WINZ usually pays everything to the people on what used to be the DPB (as was pointed out in the down further in the links you looked at) that the total quoted by WINZ included what used to be called the family benefit. I really don’t have the time to go and find out with thousands of comments to moderate every few days. You assert it, then you at least make an attempt to prove it with a link and a reason why you think it is applicable.

    The whole of the Internet is at your fingertips, use it. Don’t repeat dumbarse behaviour. This isn’t Whaleoil or the Sewer or those National party meetings where being a irresponsible mindless bigoted moron is encouraged. ]

  20. Z 20

    The very original post was simply a slagging off exercise dressed up as education & concern. As for Kaye et al, I notice these types never applaud those who’ve managed to make it through/overcome struggles _unless_ it’s being used as justification to malign the poor. Say you’ve known struggle, and speak up for the rights of the disenfranchised; be gone with you. So, it’s certainly not about giving plaudits to a woman who had it tough bringing up her kids – the appreciation is actually of the abuse of the poor – with the added bonus of ‘poor cred’ (‘This woman was poor, so of all people she knows what she’s talking about, and is totally justified in her trampling of those still struggling’). People like this are held up as examples to keep the hands of the very obviously privileged, clean.

  21. A_Nonny_Moose 21

    A breakfast of Weetbix, milk, and sugar DOESN’T cost 55c.

    It costs $5+ for a 1 kilogram pack of Weetbix. It costs $5+ for a 2 litre bottle of milk. It costs $2 (or so) for a 500 gram packet of sugar.

    Sure, you can argue they can use generic cheapie brands. Or you can argue they could use the smaller packs – but it is better value to buy bigger (eg: Weetbix 500 grams costs $3.99, vs 1 kg with is $5-6 depending on being on special).

    To START making a breakfast, you’re looking at the bare minimum outlay of $12-13 dollars. It’s the same for any meal. Veggies don’t come in single portions, they come as the whole vegetable or packet. Same with meat. Same with your cans, herbs, spices, and drinks. This “single serve pricing” is disingenuous BS for point scoring.

    And free range eggs? Are they joking? They cost DOUBLE the price of cage run eggs in some instances. You can’t afford to be picky about animal rights when you’re being treated like one by beneficiary bashers.

    • Lyn Dorsey 21.1

      Add to this Nonny the cost of having a child with food intolerances/allergies and even the cheapest breakfast is sometimes an impossibility. And I agree with the comment about free range eggs, are these people so far removed from reality to not understand that the 2 or 3 dollars more a dozen is a bottle of milk for the kids?

  22. Jim Speers 22

    I won’t have the opportunity to not vote for you again this time round Nikki,(boundary changes). Our different positions on a range of things used to ideological I guess but these days I’m just depressed by the sheer lack of interest you and your party exhibit in relation to those who have less. At least old fashioned conservatives valued their potential workforce, after a fashion. A lazy retweet that’s symptomatic of the tory retreat. Both sides of the argument cared at one time. Now you’re being well paid to narrow cast to those of good fortune. But problem is, they don’t need your help. The people needing your capabilities are those finding life tough, remembering of course their kids haven’t yet made a single decision they can be blamed for. These are the new Zealanders that actually could do with some constructive assistance from their representatives. How about being smart enough to figure that the hard lives some folk have can’t be down to their breakfast decisions. Anyway though i think you know that and thats what depresses. It’s happy- zero principle politics

  23. elliot 23

    This comment addresses the cost of food only.
    Teaching people how to shop and eat would be a good start.
    My girl friend and I spend on average $65 per week on groceries. If we break $80 we would look at thhe bill and see where the money went.
    $65 will usually get us everything we need for a healthy and tasty breakfast lunch and dinner.
    About $30 on vegetables and fruit, the rest on lentils chickpeas beans tofu milk bread free range eggs what ever sauces/others cans we need. It usually includes a cleaning product of some sort. The biggest cost saver is probably meat. You don’t require it every night if at all. lead a healthy active lifestyle.
    $56 to feed an adult is more than adequate. It is generous. I could easily spend more and afford to spend but I dont need to.
    Pleas note we often treat ourselves for dinner at the onehunga night market once a week and spend $6 each.

    To the person on twitter. Why would you go to the supermarket everyday to buy ‘singles.’ You buy a bottle of milk and abox of wheeetbix if thats what you eat. No one would expect to buy singular meals for breakfast. That would be expensive and wasteful.

    Iprent. The manner in which you reply to people is not constructive. You make me angry. My guess is you will ban me from saying that. Thank god you are notnin power.

    • If you have an argument about the way the Otago Food Cost Survey allocates the cost of food and dietary requirements, by all means take it up with them.

    • DreamingOfIncome 23.2

      Elliot – Agreed; shopping to a tight budget is do-able. But you still need the money to do the shopping! Hubby and I (pre-kids) could do our shopping for 2 of us (incl. gluten free requirements) for around $40-$50/week (~6 years ago); 2 years ago we could feed 4 adults for around $120/week; yet now we struggle to feed ourselves and the toddler for the $120/week! We fight prices, buy bulk when we can and always/only shop to specials. We regularly go without cheese, butter, buy frozen or canned veg instead of fresh but it is one seriously hard budget to fit with a child who needs 5 or 6 meals a day, not 3.
      I would also comment that with regards to meat-less meals (we do 1-2/week) the fact is that kids NEED protein, iron, and minerals that are in meat (esp. red meat) and really should be eating 2 servings of fresh fish/week – there goes all of your vege-only meal savings.
      The nutrition of meat is essential to growing kids. Mince and chicken drums are great but eventually all you want is a ‘decent’ piece of meat and longingly staring at the steak or lamb chops still doesn’t make them affordable!

  24. Digger 24

    I am SO glad that someone has the same view as I do… that these items CAN’T be bought in single serve… and to buy bulk (while cheaper in the long run) is near impossible when on a low income such as the DPB (which some might go HEY! That’s not an INCOME!)… now try that with five kids… who are old enough to make their own food… and just so happen to eat 10 weetbix in one sitting… leaving the little ones with none for a couple of days at the end of the week because of this. My dad was that parent. Who planned everything, budgeted everything to make sure we were fed. But if one of us older ones decided we wanted a massive feed, then the younger ones went without. As kids you don’t think of food as rations. You think of it as things to put in your belly when you’re hungry. A week’s worth of the lunches for the two youngest (6-10yrs) would be gone in 5 mins if one of us older kids was thinking with our stomachs before our heads (15-22yrs)… which many times Dad would yell at us for eating because there was no money to replace it. So there’s that to take into consideration as well. That you can’t buy a single serve, and on the off chance you can afford to buy bulk the kids eat it all like it’s xmas day.

    • Digger 24.1

      to add, in case some troll brings it up.
      When we were old enough for part/full time work, yes, we contributed. We gave money towards food (which was added to the weekly shop) but we also did the “fancy” things that were special treats for our siblings – like buy them new clothes or shoes or deodorant…
      If we had money at the time to replace the food we scoffed, dad would BORROW it off us. He never liked taking our own money. Guess he’s one of those people who thinks kids should be kids and spend what they earn how they choose, so he’d always give it back.

  25. Julian 25

    Pricing things by individual meals seems like an extremely basic, necessary concept to me. Those of you who claim “you can’t by food for individual meals” also need to understand that your income – whatever it may be – does not get paid to you 3 times a day so you can buy these individual meals. It’s paid in a lump sum, so you can spend it in a lump sum. Basic fundamentals of budgeting. However, I don’t believe Nikki Kaye has taken all aspects into account when designing her ‘budget’. People who don’t have to budget rarely do. I interpret her argument however that becoming well practiced at the art of budgeting could vastly improve many (not all) people’s situations. It is unreasonable (and destroys OP’s credibility) to state there is no value in what she’s saying or any of the supporting arguments on this thread. My last point is against the people who are saying that “three weetbix and milk with a bit of sugar is not a healthy, nutritious breakfast for a child” – you realize the alternative, currently a very prominent issue in our country, is children are having NOTHING, right?

  26. Claire North 26

    Hi, I’m on a sole parent benefit. my baby is 9 months old and I recieve $400 a week – $90 ftc and the rest is my benefit. No accommodation support because I live with my parents and get amazing support from them (I live in chch and finding a place to rent on a benefit is pretty nearim

  27. Claire North 27

    impossible). I don’t have the struggles that other single mothers have and my heart really goes out to them. to not be able to afford to feed your children nutritious regular meals must be heartbreaking. What makes it worse is they cut the training incentive allowance so its even harder to get ahead and support your family as a single mother off the benefit.

    • Cutting the Training Incentive Allowance is one of the great crimes of this government. It’s helped so many solo parents improve their lives and their children’s lives and actually get ahead – instead of being thrown onto the street so Paula Bennett can say “look, benefit numbers are down!”

      • AsleepWhileWalking 27.1.1

        And the ability to demonstrate benefit numbers are down will increase as they adjust the Accommodation Supplement for students who are also parents to be equal to what would be received on the benefit.

        This will shift full time students who are also single parents “off” welfare and onto a student allowance. Crafty huh. This won’t be the full 25% target but will certainly be part of it.

  28. verschnaetti 28

    rich is not who has a lot
    rich is when you need not much.

  29. Steve-O 29

    Bah, First of all the major retail supermarkets are a rip-off so instead of going there try shopping at alternative places like a farmers market or asian grocery stores who don’t put massive mark-ups on their products. There’s much more availability these days.

    Second – Try buying rice as a staple instead of the standard wheat cereals. Much more cost effective in the long term to boil half a standard cup of rice in a pot as congee with an egg or two stirred into it and perhaps a portion of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. It’s effectively rice soup/rice porridge.

    Thirdly – Milk and dairy are expensive and overrated. There are alternatives ways to getting nutrients like calcium. eg – Boiling a bag of chicken frames or dog bones in a pot extracts the calcium from the bones and you get a nice soup/stock to either drink or pour into your rice porridge. Chicken frames actually do carry a lot of meat and they’re cheap at only $2 – $3 dollars a bag at Mad Butcher.

    So there are 3x ways ideas that can help, although it doesn’t fix all problems it’s at least an alternative way of thinking outside of the box.

    • The Otago Food Cost Survey doesn’t just say “oh how much is the milk at my loca dairy”, Steve-O. And when you’re at the point of saying “you shouldn’t have milk, you should boil chicken carcasses” I think no more needs to be said about the levels of personal deprivation you’re expecting beneficiaries to go through.

      • Steve-O 29.1.1

        I never said “you shouldn’t have milk, you should boil chicken carcasses”
        I only pointed out some ideas that are slightly outside of the box of regular thinking.

        You have slightly skewed the point I am getting at which is that there are alternatives to having milk and dairy which are just as healthy and nutritious and tasty. Besides, milk and dairy are foods which induce mucous in the body. Not good when you have a stuffy/runny nose in the middle of winter.

        And who says boiling chicken carcasses is deprivation to beneficiaries, it’s all a matter of perception really.
        Take a pig’s head for example at the supermarket which is not something most people would buy. Throw it onto an episode of Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules and then all of a sudden it’s perceived as glamorous.

        • The clear implication of your comment is that if poor people are struggling, it’s their fault – because they’re not “thinking outside of the box” enough.

          There is only so much cutting and scrimping that people can do, and when you start saying “well there are alternatives to milk” it shows precisely how much you expect people to give up, rather than addressing the fact that our benefit system does not give people enough to live on.

          • Steve-O

            Again you skew my point which is that the alternatives are there and they are cost effective whether you think otherwise or not.
            Using an example of boiling chicken carcasses is not depriving anybody of anything, nor is it demeaning or demoralizing to be boiling chicken carcasses as you think the perception is. That is your perception.

            I’m not laying blame on poor people, nor am I saying it’s their fault. That is yourself making the assumption that I’m blaming others.

            What exactly would a person be giving up if they had chicken bones instead of milk?

            • Stephanie Rodgers

              You just don’t get it, Steve-O. I get you think you’re being reasonable, but all you’re doing is reinforcing the kind of hateful, judgemental attitudes which our government uses to justify treating poor people like they don’t deserve the basics in life. Next thing we know WINZ officers will be looking at people’s grocery receipts (that’s what they do when people ask for support) and saying “why did you buy milk AND chicken? We’re cutting your benefit!”

              • Steve-O

                No I’m sorry it’s you who doesn’t get it.
                I’m not saying nor am I implying people who are struggling aren’t deserving of basics in life.
                My opinion is that people should be able to provide the necessities with dignity.

                The only thing I have done is point out that there are other methods of providing cost effective food with some basis of nutritional value, yet it seems you have taken those comments to heart.

                Why would WINZ start checking grocery receipts and telling people what they can and can’t buy?
                That is your assumption only, it isn’t WINZ policy.

                I haven’t told people what they can and can’t buy, yet you seem to think that is where I stand.

                As if WINZ don’t already have enough to deal with, without micromanaging grocery receipts on top of that.

                • weka

                  Steve, I’ve had a case manager look at my receipts and question the food choices I have made. This does happen. And in not too different ways than what you are doing. “why don’t you buy this instead of that?”.

                  • Steve-O

                    Case managers are there to help at the end of the day are they not?
                    If they’re suggesting to buy this instead of that, are they not trying to help you out?
                    Is that not their job as a case manager to help out?

                    • weka

                      no it’s not. They’re not dieticians and they’re not budget advisors and they’re not trained in those professions. What you are suggesting is most definitely not their job. Their job is to advise beneficiaries of their entitlements and to assist them in accessing them.

                    • McFlock

                      steve, you went from “why would WINZ” to “Is that not their job” pretty damned quickly for someone who is offering good faith advice.

                • weka

                  btw, I do a lot of the things you suggest. But I have the capacity to do them. For instance I have a big enough pot to make stock from chicken carcasses in bulk. If you use a small pot you are using all that electricity repeatedly, plus there is more time involved. Many beneficiaries are also time poor.

                  Shopping at a farmers market or asian store means living in a place where such exists, or having a car or good public transport, and the time and energy to go to more than one place for groceries.

                  You also assume levels of skill and knowledge that not everyone has.

                  Your congee idea is interesting but how many kids are going to eat that? How many overworked mothers wil have the energy to deal with kids that won’t eat that?

                  etc. It’s very easy to say what people should be doing without looking at their real circumstances and the limitations pushed on them by society.

                • You don’t seem to be aware of how WINZ case managers treat people, Steve-O. I suggest Sarah Wilson’s blog at writehanded.org for a firsthand perspective.

            • weka

              “What exactly would a person be giving up if they had chicken bones instead of milk?”

              Time, having something their kid will eat, something they can get down the kid before rushing out the door to work/school, protein.

              • Steve-O

                One would assume then if a kid was already starving by not having weetbix and milk then surely if a bowl of soup stock with chicken meat or a bowl of rice congee with chicken meat would be the next best thing. It may not be glamerous or ideal but at least it would be food that a kid would not otherwise have if parents couldn’t get weetbix and milk.

                Soup bones can be boiled in 1-3 hours. Chicken bones contain meat. The bones contain calcium which are released into the stock when left to boil.
                Rice congee can be made in the same period of time. Chicken meat can be added to the congee.

                • weka

                  That’s all very interesting but you haven’t addressed the points in my comment. Why is that?

                  You also appear to be advocating that people who don’t have enough to live on try and get blood out of a stone. Dude, if someone can’t afford weetbix and milk, then your suggestions really aren’t going to make much difference to their lives. The point of Stephanie’s post is that too many people don’t have enough income and that telling those people they’re just not trying hard enough or doing the right things is fucked up.

                  • Steve-O

                    Nowhere have I said people in any of my comments that people weren’t trying hard enough or doing the right thing. Please reference one of my previous comments which says so.

                    Again all I have stated from my very first comment is that there are alternatives to weetbix and milk, and that supermarkets overcharge.

                    Stephanie has a perception problem with chicken bones being depriving and demoralisizing which it most certainly is not. It would most certainly make a huge world of difference to peoples lives if those kids were fed at least something instead of weetbix and milk. Even if it meant that they were chicken bones (which actually have quite a bit of meat) and even if it meant that they didn’t like the taste of the food.

                    You and Stephanie have contradicting comments over the role of a case manager.
                    Stephanie says “Next thing we know WINZ officers will be looking at people’s grocery receipts ”
                    To which you reply to my comment with “they’re not budget advisors and they’re not trained in those professions”
                    In the instance of the case managers I guess that’s likely down to individual case workers assisting people in their own way. I can’t really say whether either way is good or bad on that front.

                    I never said that my suggestions were going to remedy and solve everyone’s problems.
                    Again in my first comment
                    “So there are 3x ways ideas that can help, although it doesn’t fix all problems it’s at least an alternative way of thinking outside of the box”

                    They’re only suggestions that may or may not make even the tiniest bit of difference.
                    Anybody actually tried replacing weetbix or bread with chicken stock and rice instead?

                    • weka

                      You are still missing the point. If someone can’t afford weetbix and milk, they don’t have enough income. Suggesting they be more thrifty is just mean.

                      You still haven’t addressed my original points about why someone might not be able to do the suggestions you make.

                      “You and Stephanie have contradicting comments over the role of a case manager.
                      Stephanie says “Next thing we know WINZ officers will be looking at people’s grocery receipts ”
                      To which you reply to my comment with “they’re not budget advisors and they’re not trained in those professions”
                      In the instance of the case managers I guess that’s likely down to individual case workers assisting people in their own way. I can’t really say whether either way is good or bad on that front.”

                      No, but Stephanie and I can because we know what we are talking about. Case managers shouldn’t be giving dietary advice, but they do. They shouldn’t be giving budget advice to people without enough income (budget advisory services advise against this), but they do. What they should be doing is assisting people to access their entitlements. That’s what their actual job is.

                    • I don’t have a “perception problem”. I have a problem with you acting like the cure for poverty is “thinking outside the box”, as though the reason children go hungry is because their parents haven’t tried boiling enough scraps.

                • AsleepWhileWalking

                  Well I’m sure you and your children have all the broth they need. Perhaps you could explain to Otago University that this is possible and that their food survey has been misleading us into thinking we need more money to achieve good nutrition. I’m sure they will welcome you with open arms and give you a live streamed lecture to disseminate this revolutionary idea of yours, and possibly even be an honorary doctorate for pointing out their errors.

                  And I think you mean there is marrow in the bones, not meat.

                  • Steve-O

                    Asleepwhiletalking as well it would seem.
                    I haven’t referenced Otago Uni in any way shape or form, nor have I pointed out their errors, and no sh*t Sherlock having more money in the hand would most certainly help.

                    And no I actually meant MEAT, not marrow. Meat is on outside of bone, while the marrow and nutrients can be extracted from the bones.
                    Google up – Bone broth soup

                    Go out and try for yourself why don’t you and see for yourself. Go to a butcher and get some chicken frames, heck some places would give them away for free. Boil them up and actually see how much meat you can get out of them. Quite a lot actually.

                    • greywarbler

                      @ Steve-o 2.05
                      It would most certainly make a huge world of difference to peoples lives if those kids were fed at least something instead of weetbix and milk….. and even if it meant that they didn’t like the taste of the food.

                      If children don’t like the taste of their food, they aren’t likely to eat more than a small amount, and constant nagging is time-consuming and probably useless. If a parent has to get to work, then the money is essential and extra time spent encouraging the child isn’t available. So no breakfast that day.

                      There is no easy fix for dealing with people who are not receiving enough money for their reasonable needs. If the forms and advice from WINZ and such advanced life managers writing on this thread, could be turned into edible paper, perhaps flavoured with lemon and coconut would be my preference, plus have a small amount of vitamin c, then after reading them they could be eaten, and be food for thought.

                    • Rebecca Leys

                      Steve-O, I totally see where you’re coming from. You have been slammed because you’ve come in and offered some tips, and they think you’re being condescending and obtuse when you’re trying to be helpful. Yes, your tips offer some sound nutritional advice. And actually, hungry kids do eat what’s put in front of them (with plenty of complaints) if they’re not given other options.
                      I’m heavily into nutrition, money is tight at times but we’ve always had food in the cupboards, so I’m another person coming in without the viewpoint of living on the edge. I could say ‘yeah, and put the bones/carcasses in your pressure cooker for and hour, submerged in water with apple cider vinegar, and that will leach the minerals out of the bones and make a great broth in which you can cook up your nice, cheap rice.’ But then I’LL be attacked for presuming a person might have a pressure cooker when their cupboards are bare. Obviously we live in different worlds.
                      And my kids – who are well-accustomed to the weird, healthful things I put in front of them – don’t eat weetbix anymore because I don’t like what the wheat does to my son’s ability to concentrate. Different worlds, different choices.
                      I would certainly like for nutrition to be part of the school curriculum. For every school to have a big vege garden and an orchard, and for classes to make big vege soups each day, and vege casseroles, and for this to be available for all the kids to eat. And for some of the veges to be allowed to go to seed so the kids can take the seed home and start their own vege gardens at home, yada yada.
                      None of those things would solve the issue of poverty, which actually needs to be addressed from multiple directions, on multiple levels. But the lacks of poverty are like death by a thousand cuts. We can put a band-aid on a couple (with our chicken carcasses and congee) but the dying person will just look at us like we’re crazy. Because to them, we are.

  30. Toby 30

    I can’t and I don’t. I suffer illness from constant stress and malnourishment. I have food intolerances, but if I wanted to avoid foods I’m intolerant to then I cannot afford to eat. Most weeks I skip about six meals. That’s almost one a day. My car broke recently. I can’t afford to fix it. So now I can only look for jobs in walking distance. I cannot afford public transport. I have a dog, who requires constant feeding and health care. All the while WINZ expects me to visit them regularly going to seminars which tell me nothing I don’t already know. I know why I’m not getting a job. Because there are very specific and personal things about me that make me very unattractive to employers. I have also spent hours working in places where there was no actual job available just to fill in shifts. I don’t get paid for it. I have literally seen my (currently employed) competition get the job, and then be offered a trial. I took it, as a final dig effort to perhaps get a call when a position becomes available in the future. But there is no respect for the unemployed. No respect for the hardship that they face literally every single day. My rent has recently gone up, and I’m now trying to figure out just how the hell me and my flatmate are going to make it. We have no idea.

    • Digger 30.1

      Having a pet is another HOW DARE YOU point for people who don’t know what they’re talking about. I have a cat. I have depression. Yes, the cat takes $8 out of my own food budget per week, but the benefits of having the company as a person with depression far outweighs the loss in food. I hate how people will judge a poor person for having a pet. When you’re poor, having an animal who loves you makes you hate your life less.

      • Potato 30.1.1

        True Digger but I for one appreciate the therapeutic value of a companion pet and wish you and your cat well 🙂

  31. Lita 31

    Hi Stephanie Rogers, you forgot about Working for Families Tax Credits with two children in you care you should be entitled to an extra $157.00 per week. I got that from the IRD website where you can estimate Working for Families entitlements. That is assuming you don’t have shared care with the other parent.

    Following your budget this would leave you with $191.45 for non food items, travel, power, cell phone.

    Also tell me why you’d be looking for work as Work and Income work obligations don’t start until you youngest is 5 or 6 years old (unless of course you’ve had the youngest one while claiming you were single – yes people do that and yes Work and Income should remind people that it’s fraud to claim you’re “single” when in fact you’re not)

    You should really do all your research regarding the money you’re entitled to before asking a minister how she would live on $34.45 per week. Any good single Mum would.

    [Stephanie: Other people have already raised the Family Tax Credit. I haven’t had an opportunity to update the post accordingly, but I would strongly suggest that $191 is a paltry amount to cover additional regular costs, never mind unexpected costs. The post never suggests I am (hypothetically) looking for work.

    It is very telling that you also jump straight to the conclusion that I am (hypothetically) committing relationship fraud and want to lecture me on what a “good” single mother would do. This is precisely the kind of judgemental, condescending attitude I was highlighting.]

    • Lita 31.1

      I’ve finally read more of the comments – I only read the article initially.

      Work and Income does pay Family Tax Credits with main benefits, or the person can choose to receive it from IRD. More often than not beneficiaries choose to receive it from Work and Income as it all gets paid on the same day.

      If you choose to get payment from IRD it is paid on separately and sometimes on a different day (IRD pay’s weekly on Tuesday). How do I know this? I was in receipt of DPB as it was then called and SPS or Sole Parent Support as it is called now. Yes I was very much a single Mum and received nil input – financial or otherwise – from my son’s Dad. I also used to work for Work and Income many years ago.

      I read your comments to Doug, but I don’t understand why you think you wouldn’t receive Family Tax Credits. As a Case Manager I would always encourage clients to apply for anything they’re entitled too and FTC and would definitely be the main one other than a benefit that would increase your income.

      Work and Income generally automatically pays FTC if the client chooses to receive it with their benefit. As a single Mum I make damn sure I’m getting all I can to support my kids. There’s no way I would allow myself to stay in a situation where I had $34.45 left each week, I would complain and apply and complain again until I got an answer about why I couldn’t get Family Tax Credits. Any parent would want to do the best to support their kids, single or not.

      Those are my two cents anyway 🙂

      • Lita, I didn’t include Family Tax Credits in the original post because – and you can draw your own conclusion – the WINZ “check what you’re eligible for” calculator does not tell you about the Family Tax Credit.

        Given the huge numbers of people who are not given their full entitlements by WINZ, it is by no means guaranteed that every solo parent out there even knows the tax credit exists. And I refuse to say people “aren’t trying hard enough” when the whole system is stacked against them.

        For a sick person’s perspective on how difficult it is to deal with WINZ, I recommend Sarah Wilson’s blog at http://www.writehanded.org.

        • Lita

          Yes I agree that every solo parent out there may not know about tax credits, but when they make contact with a government agency I actually do insist that they will be told about it. They’ll be told what it is, how to apply for it, where they can get it from.

          I’ll advocate a little for Ministry of Social Development here (as this is the only government agency I’ve worked for – I can’t say for sure other government departments. And also a disclaimer if Brendan Boyle ever reads this I don’t currently work for the Ministry 🙂 ) Anyway, back to MSD, being a Case Manager you know what products are available and I’d have to say every case manager will tell a sole parent who is applying for the benefit for the first about Family Tax Credits. It may not talk about it on the website and I’m not sure why, but I’d dare say the sole parent would get a nice surprise on attending an appointment, or phoning the call centre that there is something else they can receive.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Given your apparent willingness to expose yourself to the full vindictive force of the National Party dirty smear machine, how you you think departmental human rights violations of the sort Nicky Hager exposed can be annihilated?

            • lita

              I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I haven’t bothered to understand the Nicky Hager book, nor Whale Oil, nor whaledump etc etc. You may think me stupid but my willingness to expose myself as you say comes from previous experience both personal and professional. I’m a big girl and can choose what party I vote for, if I believe in National Party policies then whoopie for me.

    • Lita 31.2

      No I’m not being judgemental or condescending about the validity of your relationship status. People need to be reminded of their obligations while in receipt of government assistance as sometimes they don’t know, or sometimes they just don’t understand.

      Also you mentioned needing a phone to look for work, hence my comment about job seeking.

  32. Stuart Mortensen 32

    This commentry by Nikki Kaye is an absolute disgrace! She’s thrown off her sheeps clothing and exposed the wolf beneath! That of herself and her National Party cohorts.

    Treating your fellow citizens with such disdain, disrespect and disregard is quite frankly inhumane. Where’s the compassion, the humility?

    Oppressing the most vunerable amongst us, stripping hope for a better, more productive life for them & their families and continuing to create an overwhelingly disperate & unequal society leads to, amongst other things, resentment, discontent as well as a morally sick, corrupt & broken country.

    What they fail to acknowledge is most find themselves in a vunerable, disadvantaged situation…not by choice but by circumstance! Circumstances anyone of us could find ourselves born into or through life not going as planned or hoped for. Do they really think people aspire to live on the poverty line and be dependant on the state to try & make ends meet?

    No matter what station people in life find themselves…people are people. We all have self-pride, self-respect, our own hopes, dreams & aspirations of some description or another.

    New Zealand was found to be the 10th ‘happiest’ country in the OECD with amongst the highest youth suicide rates in the world. These results are an international embarrassment. Living where we live, we should be top & bottom of these statistics respectively. As a nation, we should be seriously asking ourselves why this isn’t the case and start to address the systemic issues that lead us here. May I suggest to start from the top and abolish the ignorant attitudes, the like displayed by Niki Kaye, would be priority number one.

    I have always been someone to show understanding, empathy & compassion toward others. Five years ago, at age 33, I held a senior management role with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), where I was earning a good six figure salary. On the surface, the envy of many! However, for reasons I won’t elaborate on here, I unexpectedly burnt out (had a breakdown). In the six years since, I’ve lost my health, relationship with my fiance, every cent I had saved over 15 years for a house & continue a daily battle with anxiety & depression. And I’m currently on the sickness benefit. Without the help, care, love & attention of wonderful family & friends, I’d likely be homeless and destitute.

    Why am I sharing this? Its not for some self-indulgent reason I can assure you. I’m a very private person. I’m sharing my experience to demonstrate how anyone of us can be subject to circumstances beyond our control and for which given the choice we wouldn’t be in.

    So Niki Kaye, get off your high horse and stop shitting on those more vunerable from your privedged perch!!

  33. bizzibutt 33

    Many of us, with children and without, are struggling to survive. It’s so sad. Let’s help each other, eh, instead of fighting? William James said “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

    • greywarbler 33.1

      @ bizzibutt
      I think you need more weetbix to build up your fighting spirit. Your comment reminds me of a weetbix after it has soaked for a while, soggy.

      It is actually necessary to have an active determination to improve any thing in the world. It doesn’t get better from just being sweet and gentle. NZ will not improve without people with some fighting spirit working to get on a better track. And that involves thoughtful fighting. Assertiveness, determination to work to a plan for a goal, but cut the aggression.

  34. Potato 34

    Nikki Kaye, Paula Bennett and John Key are so out of touch. I just wish they’d realise that for low income people ‘when you want steak’ (or free range eggs), you try not to think of it and buy fishfingers instead.

  35. Jess 35

    I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned this yet, but while the University of Otago May recommend $137/with on food, the recommended grocery budget for a family of 3 from WINZ $75 total. If breakfast is 55 cents per person multiply that by three people over seven day you get $11.55 or 15% of the total grocery budget.

  36. Jared 36

    I imagine it would have been even cheaper for those breakfasts before National increased GST.

  37. Sarnie 37

    http://www.budgetbytes.com/ Check out her posts about the SNAP challenge (the SNAP is like our equivalent of the dole). I found her first post after ‘week 1’ of the challenge pretty enlightening.

  38. renee 38

    Some of the assuptions are hilarious the idea of getting close to $150 a week for FTC on a benefit. Try $92 for one child. Then let’s add $348 for jobseeker support for de facto couple. So then you live in a house from HNZ for $110 so no intitlement for accomplishment even if while your working you will pay market rent. Even a case manager at winz said that that part of accom supp hadn’t been thought through properly. Sounds easy to live off but once you factor in power which naturally costs more in winter and the fact that fire places have been replaced by heat pumps which are horrendous to run and with no insulation the heat isn’t retained. Then any money you owe winz is also deducted. Mostly because the individual you get to see at winz deems most things as unessary items e.g a filling because you do not have an absess or don’t need it pulled. I could go on and on. Then any a.ps you have contents and or life insurance if your lucky. School and or kindy fees. A ap to your doctor coz let’s face it pulling 20-40 out of the air is impossible if you want to eat any thing others than tinned food weetbix sausages and pasta that week. Phone bill. My family is left with about $70 a week for food. I am not a lazy person I was employed and making what we get in a month on benefits in a week. But unfortunately seasonal employment hence being on a benefit. Because let’s face it if you are young with a young family with no formal qualifications you get no where real fast.

  39. ANON 39

    I see the problem lying in money management.
    I am a contractor that does a lot of work in KFC, on a wednesday morning at 9:00 am
    there is lines going out the door. At 8:00 They had 150pc of chicken in the warmer by 9:00 it was all gone with a 30min back order on chicken (four fryers cooking chicken taking 15mins each). Now KFC is not a cheap meal usually for the size I saw going out between $36-$40 on average. That is aprox about 2/5 of their weekly income on ONE meal (do not quote me), then comes rent and living expenses then comes petrol. With abit of education and money management that could easily be meals for 2-3 days.

    Personally I say tax unhealthy foods and subsidies healthy foods. This would not only push the parents into buying boxes of cereal, bread vegetables instead of takeaways ect, but this would also start helping another huge problem in this country. DIABETES

    • greywarbler 39.1

      @ Anon 39
      You are observing what is going on and don’t understand it. The people being discussed do know and until someone questions them, without being patronising or officious, and does a little research on the customers being served over an ordinary week, then no judgments can be made.

      It is possible that this food will have to last them throughout the day with time only for the odd cup of tea, biscuit. They might be living in a garage with no cooking facilities or the gas bottle is empty, or the neighbour got blown up when they used theirs. Who knows. Don’t try to judge. If you don’t have much experience with coping in difficult circumstances, are very young, aren’t very imaginative and thoughtful of others, just hold back.

      Also they may be living, lonely stressful unhappy lives without hope for a change that they can look forward to. Here is a warm place, where others they feel comfortable to be around are there for a chat, a good morning what can we do for you, the only time that they get some civility in the day. It may be their luxury experience for the week, so pleasant that they will semi-starve on what is left them for the remainder. Who knows.

  40. Evelyn 40

    I’m not sure how to make a follow-up comment but referencing the discussion that Steve-O was having above… This made me really frustrated. While he was simply offering some plausible alternatives without any judgement, he was attacked for being judgemental and other nasty undeserved remarks and accusations. Which I’m sure I will receive for supporting him, if I don’t have my comments immediately deleted for not supporting the overall theme of the comment thread… (And to be honest, as soon as I saw the ‘moderator(s)‘ start to name-call and ban people for a year, this whole comment thread starting losing credibility.)

    While I agree that our government could be doing much, much better in terms of how us NZers are living and growing in NZ (the cost of living is beyond ridiculous vs. average wages), is there anything wrong with reevaluating the way we eat? The WINZ people, while working under the parameters set by the government – it’s not the rules that they’ve personally set, let’s remember, are often (not always, yes) just trying to help. Perhaps they’ve been in your shoes previously and they are trying to help you get the most bang out of your buck. Ok, they’re not dieticians or financial experts, but to me it doesn’t sound like they’re out to be demeaning or condescending, but are showing a bit of love to their fellow human beings by offering what they think could help. Just like Steve-O. The backlash that these acts of kindness receive is so puzzling to me and it honestly seems like maybe people don’t want the help? That somehow help and humble advice (and yes, fair enough, sometimes it’s not always that humble) is conceived as a put-down. Some foods ARE more expensive than others (and I’m going to keep my comment food-related as other costs in life are more constant and less variable, e.g. Rent, electricity, etc) and, nutrition-aside, if you’ve gotta eat, why are we not more open to alternatives that COULD help you get more bang for your buck? Ok, talking about single serves of bread is ridiculous, and bulk buying is hard on a limited budget. But what about bulk bin buying? You can buy as little/much as you want at a time. I know all big supermarkets don’t do it, but Pak n Save are usually decent for offering rice, couscous, pearl barley, lentils, dried beans, etc, in bulk bins for pretty cheap. Yep, I know, these foods take more time and sometimes electricity than what we’re used to but it’s a weigh-up right? And from one of the comments above, I realise the mere suggestion of rethinking how you eat can be construed as an insult, but hey, if it could put more on your table, what’s the harm in that? If people are already talking about not having enough money to eat what they’re used to, what’s wrong with finding out how they can afford to eat what they’re not used to? I haven’t looked at the University of Otago’s guide, nor WINZ’s, and I’m curious to do so now so I will, but what matters is what people can find for themselves within their means (e.g. Local supermarkets, butchers, markets, etc) as prices do tend to vary. I’m really passionate about the idea of everyone being able to eat and with the state of food prices in NZ, I know it’s difficult and really hope whoever leads the next government DO act to subsidise/provide breakfasts for children in lower-decile schools, to provide a point of relief for struggling families. I also hope they consider teaching in schools how to cook too – nothing fancy, but easy, nutritious, affordable meals from everyday ingredients, as this, I believe, is an important tool for life. I have a handful of ideas for cheap eating but after the response to Steve-O, I won’t bother as I don’t want to be accused for accusing others of not trying hard enough because that is far from my intention. My only hope is that people recognise that not everyone who isn’t in a difficult living situation is looking down on you or judging you (and for those who are, you never know when your circumstances might change as illustrated above in Stuart Mortensen’s comment)… There ARE people who genuinely want to help you find a way out of any difficulties you might be facing, and if that’s an insult, then you’re definitely approaching life the wrong way.

    Kia kaha

    • greywarbler 40.1

      @ Evelyn 40
      Kerripes. How can I quickly get the points from this ? What about putting a numbered summary at top or bottom. ‘These are the points you should know about’ – 1 Cheap breakfasts, 2 Feeding kids KIDS before dropping them off to school and getting a bus to work 3 Getting them to eat when RULE they are sick but I can’t get sick pay to look after them so have to send them to school OKAY! despite etc etc

      I haven’t read your brick wall. Try writing the points as graffiti on it. See above. That would be dramatic and eye-catching, art as well.

    • lprent 40.2

      And to be honest, as soon as I saw the ‘moderator(s)‘ start to name-call and ban people for a year, this whole comment thread starting losing credibility

      I’m uninterested in “credibility”. I am interested in discouraging people wasting debate time on our site.

      I don’t like people who lie with “facts”. Anyone who spins other peoples lines without bothering to read the sources or verifying them deserves all of the education that I can impart to them. Otherwise they wind up over time in becoming evil arseholes of the net like Cameron Slater.

      I find that they improve their behaviour considerably when you grab their own behaviour turn it around, enhance it 10x and throw it back. In this case confidentially arrogantly asserting facts with elements of personal abuse (but against a person rather than a group). About the only thing I did that wasn’t in Doug’s comments was banning him and actually giving him a source to check.

      After 3 decades around various nets from minicomputer games to twitter, I suspect that I am better judge of online behaviour than you are. In particular how to deal with people who aren’t really civilised in debate.

      I don’t use such tactics on people who actually argue their opinions, unless they violate other policies.

    • McFlock 40.3

      if people were making undeserved attacks on steve-o, they would have dwelt more on his advice that poor people should make broth from “dog bones” rather than have a glass of milk.

      Oh well, I guess the lesson is that where some people see dehumanising comments and undeserved attacks, others see consideration and reasonable advice.

  41. Sean OConnor 41

    Is it just me or are people here struggling with the math?
    Countdown has 1 kg of weetbix (33 biscuits) for $7.00 (Actually $5 at the mo, but that’s on special).
    Therefore 2 biscuits costs 7.00 * 2 / 33 = $42.4c.
    Milk costs $3.50 for 2L.(2000mL).
    Therefore 100mL of milk on the two biscuits is costs 3.50 * 100 / 2000 = 17.5c
    This adds to 60c, which is in line with what Nikki Kaye said.

    Re: time, beneficiaries have *more* time than working people. They have the same 24 hours to wash, clothe and feed their children as working people, without the 8 hours or more of work + transport that working people have.

    As for ‘single servings’, if you can’t manage moving two biscuits into a bowl, pouring on the milk and placing a spoon in the bowl, I’m not sure that handing you more money will be an efficient way to help your kids…

    • lprent 41.1

      Ever try shopping when you have to take two small kids on a bus? You will be amazed at how hard and long it is. Not to mention expensive on a small budget when you have to buy in very small lots through lack of money.

      A car you say? What is the tax for cars? Not to mention gas, tires, and repairs.

      Always a pleasure meeting another Moran who can’t think about the full economics of money and time of doing operations like shopping with kids

      • Sean OConnor 41.1.1

        The point is that working people manage it before getting out the door at 8. Beneficiaries complaining about lack of money is one thing but complaining about lack of time, compared to a working person is totally indefensible and pathetic. Anyway, I don’t like forums where the moderators engage in name calling, so I’m off. Enjoy your echo chamber.

        • McFlock

          but but but looking for work is a fulltime job…

        • weka

          “Beneficiaries complaining about lack of money is one thing but complaining about lack of time, compared to a working person is totally indefensible and pathetic.”

          The thing that amazes me isn’t the ignorance so much as the lack of imagination. Can you really not think of a situation where a beneficiary might be time poor?

  42. Eleanor Macfehin 42

    Some questions: How can a person tell if it is morally acceptable to spend their money on alcohol? I know that beneficiaries should never drink because it’s taxpayers money and they haven’t earnt it. But what about low income workers and old people? And how come rich people advertise alcohol to poor people and even have bottle stores in poor areas ?

    • McFlock 42.1

      oh, the concerned middle classes can tell a beneficiary just by sight. A beneficiary arouses more visceral repulsion than the working poor – which is saying something.

    • Draco T Bastard 42.2

      I know that beneficiaries should never drink because it’s taxpayers money and they haven’t earnt it.

      They pay taxes just like everybody else especially when they’re working, ergo, they have earned it.

      Why is it that some fuckwits just don’t comprehend that beneficiaries haven’t always been beneficiaries?

  43. Mumofthree 43

    Quite shocked at your harsh responses to Steve when everything he stated was health based. My kids have never drunk milk and I make my own chicken stock and bone broth, by yeah, boiling chicken bones. Just google bone broth and the health benefits, and if you think that’s deprivation for kids and hardship for parents to produce, then really, I don’t know what to say. It’s about providing what nature intended rather than nutritionally bankrupt bricks of processes wheat.

    • weka 43.1

      This post isn’t about nutrition, it’s about being able to afford nutrition. Steve-O seemed incapable of understanding that some people just don’t have enough to live on no matter how thrifty they are. The reason he got harsh responses is that he ignored the poverty aspects and focussed on choices that aren’t available to everyong. Do you see the problem?

  44. Sarah Day 44

    Today, thousands of families rely on food banks as their regular source of food as money for food is considered to be discretionary spending by many. The increasing long-term use of the Mission’s food bank is a growing concern.

    This makes me feel like the w***ker who wrote this thinks food is ‘discretionary’ for some people.

  45. Middleclass mum2b 45

    If I’m concerned about poverty and helping them improve their situations will voting Labour help?

    • weka 45.1

      To an extent, yes. Party voting Greens will probably do more. Child poverty has been one of their main working issues for a long time.

  46. kiwimac 46

    I am raising three teenage sons on what used to be called an invalid’s benefit and is now a job-seekers allowance (as if anyone will hire a 54 yr old with only so-so health.) My wife drives a school bus for 27 hours a week and I work 6.5 hours doing a rather simple but nice job. What annoys me is that we are penalised for this excessive working of ours. I have had $120 cut from my benefit in the last 2 years, it does not matter that I have three hungry teens, It does not matter that I have bills I must pay and regular, on-going health related costs. Nope gotta stop these damn bennies from actually having enough money that they can do the right things with regards to diet and clothing.

  47. C-Mac 47

    Voting labour, voting national…..at the end of the day if you really want to see a real difference a model of high taxes is the only way. High taxes for everyone. A proper transport system that means citizens don’t need a car and nor do they except they should have one. In the end it means citizens if they are a doctor or a checkout controller do not get paid that differently. In turn it means people focus less on jobs with high incomes and more about what job will make them happy. look at the Scandivian model, there are very few in the top and very few at the bottom, more are very average. They have problems with the highly skilled jobs, that they lack their own.
    At the end of the day, sad to say there is not really a perfect model, as us humans are selfish and want more than we need, people on benefits should not except to cash in without making contribution to society.

    • Staberind 47.1

      None of the words on here benefit anyone, only actions will, perhaps the first action should be eating the rich.
      their bones, I am pretty certain will make an excellent broth.
      The only problem being, there are not enough “rich”, due to concentration of wealth,
      fortunately, those aspiring to be rich will make do as well.
      essentially, those who generalise everyone as being greedy due to “human nature”, have no practical understanding of what differentiates their arse from their elbow.

      You might think “oh, a troll” but ask yourselves what effect seeing a bunch of middle class handwringers and pearl clutchers argue the toss over poors starving or not, does to people actually in that situation.

      “If you must stab, the stab upwards, not those surrounding you, and certainly not those worse off than you.”
      perhaps the motto of a sociopath, but when compared to the death of a thousand paper cuts that’s the norm, its the brutal truth.

      [moderators, should you decide to delete this, I have read your moderation thus far and agree wholeheartedly with your decisions, this is not supposed to be trollbait, simply my heartfelt opinion, I’m unsure if it adds to the debate meaningfully, I’ll leave that to whoever reads this to decide].

  48. Paulette 48

    C-Mac you are an example of education that is needed in New Zealand “should not except to cash in” let alone all the other inexplicable verbatim you have expressed – go to Scandinavia then, what are you doing here if you are so hard done by?

  49. Alison 49

    When you are on a benefit you cant afford to buy free range eggs – just the cheapest ones on the shelf. If you are lucky, you might get some on special. I know – I have been on the benefit for the last 10 years – not because I wanted to be – but because my circumstances just happened to put me in that position. Coming from a violent relationship, I really didnt have a choice. I am now (thankfully) off the benefit – but being a solo mother of two children under 14, I still cant afford to buy free range eggs, and my food purchases still come after all the other bills are paid…..

  50. Paulette 50

    Get some bloody chickens then, I too a solo mother of two, having an 11 year violent relationship, have been the only provider, no child support coming in, but have worked and worked bloody hard to provide them a better life than watch a parent being a bloody bludger, I did not have the luxury of being a “stay at home” mum as I wanted better for my children, I have been a solo parent and a worker, I am still a mum, still have to cook, clean, raise my kids AND WORK! I should be getting some kind of benefit for having 2 full time jobs – CRY BE A BLOODY RIVER

  51. C-Mac 51

    Haha Paulette, I’m not hard done by, I do pretty well in NZ. That’s the point I am making that NZ needs the educated, and needs to make sure they keep them, as do the Scandivian countries that can’t keep the educated as they are taxed so dam highly.

    Staberind….I bet you never take a sticker then you donate $x into a bucket! Haha

  52. cath 52

    if it’s all so bloody impossible how come some people are making such a good job of it. People like Paulette should be applauded – she’s teaching her kids a ‘can do’ attitude (rather than a ‘woe is us’-everyone else should provide for us) one which will set them in good stead to lead positive, productive lives. Throwing money at people has never solved any problems – teaching people to look after themselves and have pride in their accomplishments has. By the way, my 4 kids have porridge every single morning – do I care that they get bored of it? No way – it’s cheap, healthy and nutritious. They can go for something more ‘exotic’ (like cocoa pops) when they earn their own money and look after their own health. Gives them something to asspire to!

  53. C-Mac 53

    Oh by the way to make it clear, I don’t think we are taxed so badly in NZ. And yes I do pay into that top tax bracket.

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  • Let this never be forgot
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  • Electoral law breach allegations
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  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
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  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
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  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
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  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
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  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
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  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
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  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
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  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
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  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
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  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
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  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
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  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
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  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
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