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Maori leader challenges John Key at conference

Media release
11 September 2008

Maori leader challenges John Key at conference

Speech to John Key from Dr Hone Kaa
Every Child Counts Conference
11am, 11 September 2008

Thank you to John Key.

We are so glad that you have taken the time to be with us today John, so kia ora to you for making the effort and sharing your thoughts about New Zealand children.

Staring down the barrel at the election as well as thanking you for your contribution today I also feel a need to remind you of some of your responsibilities as a political leader.

The people in this room are deeply concerned about New Zealand children, and this year in particular there has been increasing concern about the level of child poverty in New Zealand. Poverty breeds violence and children in these situations are more likely to experience maltreatment, poor health and low educational achievement.

When we look back over the last 30 years it is easy to see why so many New Zealand children – especially Maori and Pasifika – experience poverty.

The social and political restructuring undertaken by the fourth Labour government sent many brown whanau to the dole queue. This was followed by the benefit cuts of the Bolger era, and many of the families we are concerned about have never recovered from this period.

These policies expose a benign hatred of the poor, and John, you must do everything in your power to make sure such interventions are never ever repeated.

The Commissioner for Children, Dr Cindy Kiro, has advocated these issues under increasing attack from moral conservatives, and she must be commended for her resilience and commitment. Within your party Georgina Te Heuheu has been especially supportive of the development of cross-parliamentary work for children.

I want to finish with a quote from my favourite author who said:

Our children cannot dream unless they live, they cannot live unless they are nourished,
And who else will feed them the real food without which their dreams will be no different from ours?
If you want to change the world someday, we at least have to live long enough to grow up shouts the child.


* Every Child Counts is a coalition formed by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children, the Institute of Public Policy at AUT, CCS Disability Action and Te Kahui Mana Ririki. We work in a variety of ways to educate people-from corporate citizens to politicians and the general public- about the political and community actions that will better support children and their families.
This year’s conference is being held in Wellington at the James Cook Hotel on 10 and 11 September. To find out more about conference go to www.everychildcounts.org.nz. All media welcome.

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