No one in Aotearoa New Zealand should be forced to live in poverty.
In good times and in hard times, we should all have the dignity and security of a roof over our head, healthy kai on the table and the essential things we need.
A stable whare (house) is the foundation for a good life. None of us can go about our lives, raise a family, go to work or stay healthy without a warm, dry and safe place to call home.
But right now, due to the way in which successive governments have run down the welfare system, and taken a hands-off approach to the housing market, New Zealand’s homes are some of the least affordable in the industrial world. Families are having to choose between rent and food.
When people lose their job, get sick or end a relationship and then can’t keep a roof over their heads, we are seeing the failures of an unkind, unjust and unbalanced economic system. When corporations are taking in record profits, but there hasn’t been a real increase in income support for a generation, and more and more people can’t make ends meet, our society is out of balance.
These statistics should both astound and compel us into action:
The wealthiest 20 percent of people in New Zealand hoard 70 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 40 percent have just three percent.
Two New Zealand billionaires have more combined wealth than the poorest 30 percent of people in this country.
Over 50 percent of all people in New Zealand who receive an Accommodation Supplement to pay for their housing needs are spending more than half their incomes on housing, while four out of every five renters cannot afford to pay their rent comfortably.
The median Pākehā has $114,000 of wealth. The median Māori has $23,000. That’s a gap of $91,000. The median Pasifika person has even less at $12,000.
Between 2004 and 2010 the wealth of the richest one percent - about 34,000 people - increased from $94billion to $147billion; that’s $4,323,529 per person. Meanwhile the poorest 10 percent of people saw their net debt increase from $5.7billion to $7.4billion.
CEO pay is increasing at almost five times the rate of the average worker.
27 percent of New Zealand’s children live in poverty, where poverty is defined as having less than 60 percent of the national median household income (after housing costs), while six percent (70,000) of all children live in severe hardship.
There are now at least 41,000 homeless New Zealanders, more than half of whom are younger than 25.
There is too much wealth in too few hands while everyday New Zealanders struggle to make ends meet and the cost of living continues to soar.
We need government intervention to end the poverty trap and rebalance our economy. We need government intervention to ensure that everyone one in this country has enough pūtea (income) to live with dignity and participate fully in the community.
If we are to fulfil the Coalition Government’s goal for Aotearoa to be the best place in the world to be a child, then all parents, whānau and caregivers must have a liveable income.
A hands-on government can fix our broken economic system. A hands-on government can change the rules to make our economy fair, kind and just. A competent and caring government can ensure that every child and whānau flourishes.
This report and website, collated to inform the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, calls for both reform and transformational change of our welfare system.
It advocates for a welfare system based on compassion, aroha (love, empathy and compassion for all without discrimination) and manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness respect, generosity and care for others without expecting anything in return).
We put this report into the world in the hopes it inspires politicians and other public servants to put children and whānau wellbeing at the heart of their decisions.