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Caring Kiwis Would Pay More Tax

New Zealand is a more caring society than Australia and Britain, and Kiwis are prepared to pay more tax to help those in need, according to a Reader’s Digest poll presented by Father Des Britten at the Wellington City Mission today.

“According to similar Reader’s Digest surveys carried out in Australia and Britain, New Zealanders are more likely to work as volunteers, more likely to take part in a fund raising event and more likely to chat to lonely people,” says Father Britten.

Over 80 percent of New Zealanders say they would pay more tax - $5.90 a week on average - to help those in need, especially the elderly, the physically disabled and the mentally ill.

However, nearly half of all adults polled believe we have become less caring in the last ten years. Yet during the past six months more than 80 percent of us have given to charity and 98 percent claim to have performed some act of kindness for people outside our families.

The results come as no surprise to Father Des Britten, who says that New Zealanders have always been prepared to pitch in.

“The City Mission exists on donations and the dedication of volunteers. The organisation has been around nearly 100 years and during that period there have been some very tough times. But the organisation has always managed to garner most of the support needed to carry out the work of the City Mission – of course we would like to do more.

“The popular perception is that Christmas is a time for families, and that young people party hard and have a great life-style. The reality is often quite different. Loneliness is an issue for all ages and we see it come to the fore at Christmas,” said Father Britten.

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The poll found that five percent of people had spent Christmas alone and that 54 percent of 18 – 24 years olds admit to feeling lonely at the weekend.

Scoring highly in the poll were Maori and Pacific Islanders, who outshone other ethnic groups in five of the seven categories of caring acts specified. Maori and Pacific Islanders were 50 percent more likely to have performed some kind of voluntary work.

The poll endorses the popular notion that warmth and caring increase as you head into the heartland. Big city dwellers and their provincial cousins volunteer in fairly equal proportions, but volunteers in the provinces gave up more of their time with 60 percent undertaking voluntary work at least once a week, compared to 46 percent of volunteers in the city.

It seems that Wellingtonians are busy out and about enjoying their “Top Town” status as awarded by North and South magazine. According to the Reader’s Digest poll, 20 percent of “Top Towners” don’t speak to their neighbours in any given week, with Christchurch being the next unsociable city with 19 percent.

The December issue of Reader’s Digest, in which the poll appears, is the 50th anniversary issue of the magazine in New Zealand.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Father Des Britten, please phone Joanne Ruscoe : 04 499-0873 (work); 04 479-2923 (home) or 025 925 733 (mobile); or Kate Jackson: 04 495 7637 (work); 04 973 7491 (home).

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