A Glimmer of Hope - Tariana Turia speech on Child Poverty
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
11 December 2012
A Glimmer of Hope - The report of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty
Delivered at 1pm at the Beehive Theatrette
Yesterday we were full of anger.
Yesterday we were full of despair.
The Te Ohonga Ake report told us absolutely definitively that each year 120 New Zealand children die of poverty.
It told us that this year, 120 children will not wake up on Christmas morning: because they are dead.
That is three buses full of children – gone.
Three ghost buses of Maori, Pasifika, Pakeha and Asian children driven over a cliff of disinterest, neglect, abuse and mere poverty.
In a country that exports food to the world, some children are so malnourished that they succumb to entirely preventable diseases.
In a country that prides itself on being a great place to raise children, some children are beaten to death, some children are neglected to death, some children are simply unloved to death.
So if you ask, are we angry? Aren’t you?
If you ask, do we despair? Don’t you?
But, today, today there is a glimmer of hope.
The report of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty is that glimmer of hope.
It says quite simply that we can do something about this slaughter of the innocents.
That’s the most important thing it says: that we can do something, as Jonathan Boston says, “if we’re serious about substantially reducing child poverty rates”.
If we’re serious.
That is the challenge that lies before us. All of us.
Because this is not, fundamentally, a Government problem.
This is not a Maori problem, or a Pasifika problem, or a pakeha problem.
This is a human problem, a moral challenge. This is our problem – each and every one of us.
It is the responsibility, first and foremost, of every parent and every caregiver, to use every ounce of their beings to look after the children in their care.
It is the responsibility of all whanau and all neighbours, to look in, and step in, to help and to protect.
It is the responsibility of the medical profession, to overcome every economic and cultural barrier to treat our children with all the skill and technology at their command.
It is the responsibility of the teachers and schools, the churches and the activists, to campaign against complacency.
It is the responsibility of the media, to keep this paramount issue front and centre every day and not be distracted by celebrities and sports and shallow scandal.
It is the responsibility of politicians of all stripes to be deadly serious about substantially reducing child poverty rates.
It is the responsibility of all of us, because there is more than enough blame to go around everyone in this country – to go around all of us not just once, but twice, thrice and more: one hundred and twenty times more.
It is way past time that we simply said with one voice: Enough.
That we simply recognise that caring for every child is everybody’s responsibility.
Are we angry? Yes.
Do we despair? Today, just a little bit less, because there is a glimmer of hope.
Our responsibility – all of us – is to take that glimmer, and turn it into a bonfire of action.
The time of words is over. The time of action is here.