Campaigners petition against child poverty ahead of Budget 2015

BY Anuja Nadkarni


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”.


Nation’s fashion capital to get makeover.

By Anuja Nadkarni


Auckland University’s new campus on Khyber Pass Rd will bring a fresh focus on hospitality services to Newmarket, adding to its fashion image.

Following the completion of parts of the campus late last year, the Newmarket Business Association is looking at rebranding the industrial and commercial hub.

The suburb is looking to add hospitality and restaurant culture to its “glamorous” fashion image, says Margaret Mateo, marketing and events coordinator for the association.

“We don’t want to be known just as the fashion capital,” she says.

The association dubbed Newmarket the nation’s “fashion capital” in 2005, when its growing number of retail store members decided the suburb needed to be seen as more than just a convenient traffic junction.

The mix between the Westfield Mall and little boutique stores provides “the best of both worlds” for any shopping enthusiast, says Alina Tahoe, Recycle Boutique sales assistant.

Ms Tahoe says the increased traffic as a result of the new campus will help drive forward the image the suburb wants to create.

“The whole idea is that you can work here, shop here, play here and now study here.”

The campus, which is located at the former Lion Breweries site on Khyber Pass Road, is part of the university’s long-term development plan.

The university’s website says 200 staff and students moved to the new facility last October and more people from the engineering and science faculties are due to relocate in the year.