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Maori Party appalled at Minister’s response

Maori Party appalled at Minister’s response to rampant poverty

Press statement: Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party

The Maori Party is ‘absolutely appalled’ that Parekura Horomia thinks 20,000 children go to school without breakfast because they might be dieting to slim down.

“I was so shocked at his statement, I felt quite sick,” said Mrs Turia.

“The Minister of Maori Affairs and Associate Minister of Educationmust know that 20,000 children arrive at school hungry every day.

“He must also know that a high proportion of those children are Maori and Pacific Island children, from families in the greatest need.

“For the Minister to suggest that obesity is the problem, rather than not having enough food to put on the table, is almost obscene.

“Everyone knows that a good breakfast is essential to kids doing well during the school day – to nourish young bodies and minds for maximum performance.

“Just this morning the Maori Party caucus met with Kate Green, the head of Child Poverty Action Group in the UK, to discuss how we might focus the government’s attention on the chronic and widespread child poverty evident in New Zealand.

“Kate Green outlined ways her group had lobbied the UK Government to adopt policies that are actually making a difference to reduce child poverty. We felt quite positive that change is possible.

“Until this afternoon, that is, when we all saw that the level of denial among government ministers is far more serious than we had thought.

“The Minister’s outrageous statement certainly underlines the urgent need for the Maori Party to redouble our pressure on the government to tackle poverty, especially as it affects children and young families,” said Mrs Turia.

KidsCan, a charity which provides raincoats, food and shoes to low-decile schools, has opened its first South Island office to cope with rising demand. The number of schools using its programmes has grown from 40 to 85 in three years, with a further 80 on a waiting list.


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