Heartbreak in Hawera | [Insiders] – the conversation starts here.
A wise man once said “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil”. Yet, it is this government who has overseen some of the worst poverty New Zealand has ever seen. Yet it fails, completely and utterly fails, to recognise poverty as an evil which must be eradicated to protect our people, our way of life and our economy.
Be kind to New Zealanders. A shocking 1 in 4 live in poverty, with a further half of those living in what is classified as ‘severe poverty’. This might be because they are living in garages due to sky-high rent (let alone house prices), are suffering or at least prone to third world diseases, or at any given time have no money. Homelessness is now a common sight in our biggest cities, but even our rural towns are suffering. The economic boom does not reach towns such as Hawera, which relies heavily on the labour force and dairy. It was with great sadness that when I last visited Hawera, a very pro-National town and once bustling Southern Taranaki urban hub, I was confronted with a thought-provoking sight.
I was on a tourist bus near the town centre, full of eager foreigners ready to see what our famed rural towns looked like. What they saw, and what I saw, was different. It was the level our society had hit. An elderly veteran (medals on jacket), desperately lifting himself from his mobile scooter and searching through a rubbish can, desperate for food. It is a mental image that will surely stay with me, and those on that bus, for a long time.
At no point in my life had I wished more to take the Prime Minister, John Key, by the hand and showed him – look, this is what your lack of response has done. Yet the Prime Minister’s government flat-out refuses there is such a thing as poverty, because it does not resemble what we might see in Somalia.
This angers me. At what point do we stop looking at the hungry children on the street, forced to buy a bottle of budget soda with the $1 there parents were able to fork out for them? At what point do we say a single mother living in a cold garage through the bitter South Island winter is wrong, and we can stop that happening? At what point do we realise a fully-trained teacher not being able to live comfortably on her income is not right? At what point do we stop just looking, and start doing something when an elderly man is forced to go to bed before the sun goes down so he doesn’t have to spend his earnings on the power bill? At what point do we recognise New Zealand kids growing up with third world diseases is, plainly and obviously – poverty.
Today the Prime Minister’s mind couldn’t be further from the day-to-day struggles of our people, but instead focused on building his image overseas. $1,000,000 spent on Samoa in the name of ‘foreign aid’. The last time New Zealand put money towards ‘foreign aid’ the Cook Islands PM was delighted to see the New Zealand taxpayer funding his pearl farms. Surely Prime Minister, whilst your country struggles and one of it’s largest cities faces some of the most extreme cases of poverty and poor living conditions (from no fault of their own) in the Pacific, you can see where that $1,000,000 should be spent.
So let’s not spend billions down the track on health care when we finally wake up and realise this problem which shouldn’t even exist in our wealthy, first world country. Let’s put an end to it now. Simple steps:
– Solar panel installation to cut down on power bills.
– Free school meals so children can actually learn.
– Free eye tests so they can see properly.
– Insulate homes.
– Free GP visits for anyone under 18 or not yet fully independent.
And, on no condition, should we be telling families to leave their state homes.