Campaigners petition against child poverty ahead of Budget 2015

BY Anuja Nadkarni

12/05/15

Campaign group ActionStation has joined forces with other non-profit organisations to get 10,000 signatures on a petition against child poverty in New Zealand.

The petition comes in time for politicians to speak about the issue in the forthcoming Budget session in Parliament on Thursday May 21.

ActionStation campaigner Marianne Elliott says the petition is a reminder for the Government about the promises it made regarding child poverty in the lead up to last year’s election.

“New Zealanders are still concerned about child poverty and we expect there to be something in the Budget that will make a substantial difference.”

Minister of Finance Bill English did not mention the issue of child poverty in his recent pre-budget speech.

National Manager for UNICEF New Zealand, Deborah Morris-Travis, says the children mostly stricken by poverty are aged below four years. This is concerning because they are undergoing rapid mental and physical development at that stage.

According to the Child Poverty Monitor there are more than 250,000 Kiwi children living in poverty.

National Secretary of Income Equality, Peter Malcolm, says the state of child poverty for a developed country like New Zealand is “shocking”.

“There is a very obvious way to solve that problem and that is by providing money to those who need it.”

The preferred outcome the campaigners would like to see from the petition is for all families living in poverty, regardless of their employment status, to receive Working for Families child-related tax credits.

Currently the child-related tax credits are available only to those families that work a minimum of 20 hours a week.

Ms Morris-Travis believes the Government’s position that creating more jobs will lead to greater incentive for poor families is ineffective.

“When you drive people into very deep poverty it’s a lot harder for them to get out. Often they’ll lose hope or there’ll be no resources available for transport or clothing for work anyway.”

Ms Elliott says the Government needs to shift its focus from increasing employment to helping those who are unable to join the workforce.

She says jobs cannot be created overnight.

“That is a long-term solution and every year that it takes to improve the lives of these children, is a year that those children don’t get that.”

Ms Elliot is “confident” the petition will get more than the required number of signatures.

The main purpose of a petition is a way for New Zealanders to exercise their rights as citizens, she says.

“There is strong public appetite for real change that tackles the heart of the issue, not the symptoms of it.”

Ms Elliott says she recognises that the complexity of the issue means it may not be resolved in Budget 2015 but it should get the politicians to “do more than just talk the talk”.

The Great Wall of Kingsland

BY Anuja Nadkarni

29/03/15

A novel project by Kingsland residents has turned a big dull grey wall in the neighbourhood into a bold piece of artwork.

Last Sunday, the residents celebrated the official opening of the revamped flyover wall on Bright St.

The local residents-led project, called ‘The Wall on the Bright Side’, invited designs from several artists, and Kate Millington’s ‘Kowhai-Butterfly’ mural design was chosen to grace the wall.

“It was hard work. You had to keep yourself together, be nice to each other when we didn’t feel like it at times, but just had to do it and we got through it – and that’s the sign of a good community,” Ms Millington said.

The aim of the project was not only to transform the wall into an attractive piece of art but also to deter taggers and make the tunnel that connects Bright St to New North Rd safer, she said.

At least 80 people gathered on the day, according to the project’s Facebook page.

Albert-Eden Local Board member Helga Arlington said the project has brought “people out of their homes and finally speaking to each other”.

“The wall before was a complete eye-sore – now it looks so beautiful,” Mrs Arlington said.

The idea was pitched last year to the Albert-Eden Local Board, which supported the idea and offered a $2000 grant, but local resident Lyn Barnes raised a further sum to bring it all together.

“It was great to see all of the neighbourhood come to the bright side… And the best part is all the graffiti boys seem to respect the mural,” Ms Barnes said.

Residents from neighbouring streets also joined the event, which began with a few words by former Waitakere City Mayor Sir Bob Harvey, who spoke about being a former Bright St resident.

‘Like’ your way to a dream wedding

BY ANUJA NADKARNI

23/03/15

Franklin’s couples are posting their proposal stories on Facebook to collect ‘likes’ and win a $2000 dream wedding.

The ‘Franklin’s Most Romantic Proposal’ competition is using the popular social media platform to bring together the community and create buzz for the local bridal businesses.

Bridal boutique owner Kristina Salmons is the brain behind the idea and is using local businesses that specialise in catering for weddings and events to pitch in for the prize.

“We know how expensive weddings can be and we thought why not give back to one lucky couple through our professional work,” says Mrs Salmons.

Franklin has become an online community and Facebook is an “invaluable business tool,” says prize contributor and wedding photographer Lisa Foster.

There are at least six Franklin community pages on Facebook.

“Before Facebook, it would’ve just been a poster on the wall somewhere, that only people who walked past could see,” says Ms Foster.

“But today, it gives you the flexibility to connect with a wide range of people regardless of geography.”

The wedding competition that started on Valentine’s Day and currently has seven competitors, with some receiving more than 300 Facebook likes.

Contestants Rebekah Linton and Hiroshi Ochiai were high school sweethearts and have been together for five years.

“We’re quite tight on money and as you know, weddings are really expensive so any voucher towards it is really handy,” says Miss Linton.

The couple has garnered more than 400 likes and is patiently waiting for the result to be announced after April 4 when the competition closes, says Miss Linton.

Rebecca Flavell and her fiancé Nat Hollings say they are overwhelmed by the community’s online support.

“The Franklin page brings the whole community together – the love that people give complete strangers is amazing,” says Miss Flavell

Len Brown: “the city needs more investment”

BY ANUJA NADKARNI

23/03/15

Mayor Len Brown is promising more cycle lanes, rail links and busses to accommodate Auckland’s growing population.

Auckland’s population is growing by “1.5 to 2 per cent a year,” says Mr Brown.

Mr Brown says the government has not invested enough money into transport for the super city.

“We’ve always under invested in Auckland… and I’m saying now is the time to actually stop this nonsense.

“The more we invest, the more people get on it.”

To accommodate the growing city, the mayor says the council is looking to support the $30 million investment by the Government to reach 1000 cycle lanes within the city.

Mr Brown says the only way to create greater investment is through road tax or regional petrol tax.

60 per cent of Aucklanders are willing to pay the $2 motorway toll in light of better transport for the super city so far.

Having the motorway toll will not only raise money but also force people to consider other options of transport, Mr Brown says.

“Whether they decide to go on the motorway or whether they get off, get on a bike or walk, or get on public transport. It helps de-congest.

The mayor says the investments have lead to a million extra city rail trips a year for 80 per cent of the city’s rail networks.

Mr Brown promises that once the city’s rail link finishes, which he hopes is within four years, there will be up to 35 million trips per year.