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Government Doesn't Care About Child Poverty

Hone Harawira
Leader of MANA

25th January 2012

Government Doesn't Care About Child Poverty

"Government's pledge to do something about poverty is bullshit" said MANA leader Hone Harawira, "and their forcing the Aupouri Maori Trust Board to stop feeding hungry kids as part of their Social Workers in Schools contract, proves it."

Harawira said that for the past four years the Aupouri Maori Trust Board had been providing free lunches to hungry kids in Kaitaia every day, but the government had forced them to stop doing it 'because it was outside of contractual obligations.'

"Aupouri have been an inspiration really," said Harawira. "They were funded to deliver a contract and they have consistently delivered on all their outcomes, and yet government is now telling them that feeding children can not be part of their social work.

Harawira said that teachers, nutritionists and child poverty experts have consistently pointed to the necessity of breakfast and lunch to children's learning, and positive classroom behaviour.

"And yet despite all the evidence, the Child, Youth and Family Service - the agency charged with looking after children - wants to stop Aupouri feeding hungry children. Unbelievable."

Harawira said that the Minister of Social Welfare should actually come back to Kaitaia to see what it was that Aupouri was doing because it was the sort of work that deserved a medal rather than condemnation.

"In fact, I'd be happy to host her, "said Harawira. "I was the CEO for Aupouri for a number of years, and I've seen how successful they have been with their social work programmes."

Harawira said that when bureaucrats cancelled contracts over petty technicalities, it was time somebody cancelled their contracts.

"This kind of bully-boy behaviour towards organisations doing positive work to alleviate poverty shows that government's Cabinet Committee on Child Poverty is destined to be nothing but lip service to the hundreds of thousands of kids living below the breadline.

"Increased poverty will be the biggest indictment against this Government - mark my words", said Mr Harawira.


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