Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Let’s take a lead from Mandela on child poverty

Let’s take a lead from Mandela on child poverty
A Christmas message from Brendan Horan

The festive season is upon us and for most of us plans are well underway for Christmas Day and the holidays we will share with whanau and friends into the New Year.

This is a time for children and as the proud father of two happy and healthy children, Kiahi and Leilani, it’s wonderful to see the sheer joy on their faces as they anticipate the visit of Santa and being surrounded by the people that cherish them most on Christmas Day.

But for very many New Zealand children the next few weeks will be a desperately bleak time as the swirl of gift buying and giving, of stocking up and excessive consumption, emphasises to them the deprivations they are required to put up with as a result of the poverty they are trapped in.

This sad truth was brought home to us this week when the first Child Poverty Monitor report (www.childpoverty.co.nz) was released by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. It contained some deeply disturbing facts.
• There are 265,000 children living in poverty in NZ today. That is one in four children.
• 17% of children go without the basic things the majority take for granted. They are constantly hungry, cold, alone, sad.
• One in 10 children lives in severe poverty that often results in hospital admission.
• Three out of five children living in poverty will live this way for many years.
• The poverty rate for Maori and Pasifika children is double the rate for pakeha. Half of all children living in poverty are Maori or Pasifika.

We should all be truly ashamed by this. How can we as a nation, held up as progressive and with one of the better performing economies in the developed world, be failing those that need us most to this extent? And the trends show no sign of abating.

The Expert Advisory Group that the Children’s Commissioner brought together for this exercise has identified the very many things that have contributed to this, and have offered up a very robust set of well-considered recommendations.

It is up to this and future Governments to address this abysmal situation and take up these recommendations. But we as parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents need to do our part as well by speaking our minds and taking action in our communities.

No child of Aotearoa should go toward this or any other Christmas without joy or hope in their heart. So let’s spread the aroha a little further and embrace those in need.

The final word on this should go to a truly great man who passed this week, Nelson Mandela. While remembered first and foremost for the part he played in pulling down the apartheid regime in South Africa and bringing democracy to his people, Mandela was a staunch advocate for the under-privileged and poverty-stricken.

One of his most famous quotes on this subject is one we should all heed this Christmas:

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Anzac Issue Out Now: Werewolf 47

Alison McCulloch: Lest We Remember

Local iwi have plans to spruce up the Te Ranga site as part of the 150th commemorations this year of key battles in the “New Zealand Wars”, but not a lot of money to do it with.

Information gathered from numerous government agencies shows that while more than $25 million is being spent on monuments and commemorations relating to foreign wars, primarily World War I and its centenary, only around $250,000 has been set aside for those fought on our own soil. More>>

Anne Russell: Anzac Day - Identity Politics, With Guns

Even cursory research into media reports from the past forty years reveals a cultural shift in the commemoration of Anzac Day. Among other things, turnout at Dawn services has increased significantly in recent decades.

Contemporary numbers are estimated at 3,000-4,000 in Wellington, and 10,000-15,000 in Auckland. Newspaper reports from the 1970s and 80s estimated Wellington turnouts at 300-800, and Auckland at anywhere from 600 to 4,000. More>>


Parliament Today:

Spookwatch: New Inspector-General Of Intelligence And Security Appointed

Prime Minister John Key hasannounced the appointment of Cheryl Gwyn as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The appointment was made by the Administrator of the Government on behalf of the Governor General and is for a term of three years. More>>

Crowdsourcing: Green Party Launches Internet Rights And Freedoms Bill

The Green Party has today launched the Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill, New Zealand’s first ever Bill crowdsourced by a political party. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Shane Jones Departure

Shane Jones has left Parliament in the manner to which we have become accustomed, with self interest coming in first and second, and with the interests of the Labour Party (under whose banner he served) way, way back down the track. More>>


Multimedia: PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - April 22 2014

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • The recent improvement in the economy with a growing job market • Income and wealth inequality • Easter trading laws • The New Zealander killed in a drone strike in Yemen... More>>


Easter Trading: Workers 'Can Kiss Goodbye To Easter Sunday Off'

The Government’s decision to “reprioritise” scarce labour inspector resources by abandoning the enforcement of Easter Sunday Shop Trading laws means workers can kiss goodbye to a guaranteed day off, says Labour’s Associate Labour Issues spokesperson Darien Fenton. More>>


ACT Don't Go For Maximum Penalty: Three Strikes For Burglary, Three Years Jail

Three strikes for burglary was introduced to England and Wales in 1999. As in New Zealand, burglary was out of control and given a low priority by the police and the courts. A Labour government passed a three strikes law whereby a third conviction for burglaries earned a mandatory three years in prison... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Drone Strikes And Judith Collins‘ Last Stand

The news that a New Zealand citizen was killed last November in a US drone attack in Yemen brings the drones controversy closer to home. More>>


Elections: New Electorate Boundaries Finalised

New boundaries for the country’s 64 General and seven Māori electorates have been finalised – with an additional electorate created in Auckland. More>>


Policies: Labour’s Economic Upgrade For Manufacturing

Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today announced his Economic Upgrade for the manufacturing sector – a plan that will create better jobs and higher wages. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Life And ACC Work Of Sir Owen Woodhouse

With the death of Sir Owen Woodhouse, the founding father of the Accident Compensation Scheme, New Zealand has lost one of the titans of its post-war social policy. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news