Tag Archives: poverty

Transience a form of neglect?


As a Statutory Social Worker one of the tasks I had to complete was to determine whether I believed a child or young person was in need of care and protection, Continue reading


You Better Get In This Bloody Car Right Now

I heard this as I was driving home, a car parked in the middle of the street, in no mans land as it were, hazard lights flashing, the tone of the voice sent me into high alert Continue reading

John Campbell gone, a tragedy, travesty or a wake up call?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Well the axe has fallen, like a slow rolling locomotive, John Campbell and his supporters have been put out of their misery.  Now I have to say I like John Campbell and supported his programme.  I have enjoyed seeing various politicians, shysters, crooks, and generally mean people squirm under the intense scrutiny of the Campbell Live team.  I will be eternally grateful that I don’t have to pass by the honey traps that the dead sea secret mud sellers set in the shopping malls.  There is no doubt that John Campbell has done a power of good.

It is a moot point whether Campbell has paid the price for pricking the consciences of the powerful, it is what it is. TV3 is a private enterprise and entitled to make decisions, as of course we as consumers are. I will make a point of not buying anything advertised in the replacement show of Campbell Live.  Here is the nub for me, the thing I find obscene, distressing and sickening. On Facebook someone lamented who would highlight child poverty, who will keep politicians and bad people accountable, I read this and was enraged, we have abrogated our responsibilities to the suited crusader, Mr John Campbell esquire.

Let me explain, I am an agent of social change, I attempt to hold people accountable, call out loudly when I see things that alarm me, challenge injustice when I see it.  I have written before how it is tiring defending yourself and dealing with your own injustices let alone others https://kiwipaulspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/this-frog-is-tired-of-being-boiled/.  However when we rely on a highly paid high profile, journalist to be our social conscience then we are in trouble.  I have lamented how people just don’t care about issues, I guess I am not completely correct but what we have seen with the slow death of John Campbell is a clear definition of where the problem lies.

It is no secret that the National Party celebrate the loss of the Campbell Live show, the question has to be asked why.  Is it possible that they realised that our society’s defence against the epidemic arising from the economic policies of neo-liberal politics had come to John Campbell? That the electorate did not care about the excesses of neo-liberalism, the causalities of our “free market” economy was abundantly clear in the results of the election.  Campbell was a thorn in their sides.  Well I see that as a moral failure.

Any reasonable person who has a simple grasp of the reality we live in should be able to see that people are living at the margins of society, that vulnerable people are being hurt, hopes dreams and normality is destroyed as a growing number of people are being excluded from participating in society.  The answer from political parties as a whole is inadequate.  Labour wants to in fight about the politics of funding transgender surgeries and National throws 25.00 at families and crows about how generous it is.  Enough to make me vomit. The Greens are written off as looney lefties, New Zealand first is more concerned about a bit more tar seal in Northland, Peter Dunne well if he was ever the answer the question was exceedingly stupid and The Maori Party have become as irrelevant as the ACT (the association of charlatans and tax avoiders).

The only politicians who care are soon shut up by their political masters because the voters only want to hear good news, they don’t want to have to be the ones who tell us that we need to either pay more tax or grow the cake.  Perhaps we need to make sure that the multinationals who profit so much from the free market and flexible labour laws pay their share, perhaps we need to make sure that those who profit tax free from property do so no longer and perhaps we also need to say enough… demand that our Government does what is should and eliminate poverty and its close cousin of abuse in New Zealand.

Rest in Peace Campbell Live, but it is time we stood up as we should.


What price integrity? Four dollars today at Pak n Save

Today in New Zealand we had a budget delivered, with great fanfare John Key announced his massive attack on poverty.  A huge 25.00 per week for single parents and low income families.  In this case a low income family is counted as someone who is earning less than 17.50 or so per hour for a 40 hour week.  In my town that won’t even pay for one of my children to visit the doctor, it would take 10 extra weeks to gather enough to pay for a couple of fillings, it might pay for one child’s school uniform and fees for the year, how is that going to impact on child poverty? In the mean time the rent will have risen and taken care of the 25.00, school fees will have risen because the rise in the general grant will only be 1% this year, not even the rate of inflation.

I had a stark reminder of the face of child poverty tonight.  I was shopping at a supermarket and the guy in front of me was making a single purchase, a can of infant formula.  He had a worried expression on his face and ran his fingers through his change seeming to count it, he placed the tin on the counter and said how much is that?  17:99 said the checkout operator, I’ll have to come back he said, the operator shot a glance at me and I at him, we both knew he wasn’t coming back, the look of desperation and sadness on his face told me everything I needed to know, it was like I could see the wheels moving in his head, where can I find $4:00,

It was cold and wet outside, his clothes looked inadequate for the weather, they had clearly seen better days and his feet were blue from the cold, rubber Jandals were what he was wearing.  Ill pay the balance I found myself saying, “what was that he said, I’ll make up the difference, he said” no mate I can’t accept that”, I said it’s not for you.  Been there done that I said to make him feel better, not quite true I have been broke before but always enough food in our house.  He handed over the $14:00 he had and I paid the rest, he turned to me tears in his eyes and said you don’t know what this means, I think I did, he turned and left and I was filled with regret.  Four miserable dollars, I should have paid for the lot, invariably I will have the same amount of money at the end of the week.

The checkout operator said it was the hardest part of her job watching as people put things back as they didn’t have enough to pay, and she said it’s not tobacco and alcohol going back it is food, bread butter.  She said it is hard, she feels the tears welling up and there is nothing she can do, she is not allowed to.  She said it was the first time she had seen somebody do something about it like I had, she said I was a good man.  Well you know what I think about that moniker, from some of my posts (https://kiwipaulspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/if-someone-tells-me-i-am-a-good-man-one-more-time/) a good man, like heck I am.  I couldn’t stop and tell her why I wasn’t a good man, I just thanked her and left.

I am not telling this story because I want people to know that I am a kind man, I am relaying the story to show the face of poverty.  For me the decision to pay for the balance was easy. It is about retaining my integrity, looking myself in the mirror, if I thought that by my lack of compassion a baby was going to miss out on food then that is just too bloody awful to contemplate.  I don’t care if he smoked or drank, although there was no evidence of the above and if he had put formula back on the shelf and bought tobacco or alcohol I would have given him the edge of my tongue. Judgemental? Absolutely.  So an easy decision to make.

The question is how do I make it right for the children living in cold, damp overcrowded houses, the children who don’t get to the doctor, the children who just don’t eat right. How do I make it right for the pensioner shivering in the cold because they are scared of the next big power bill?  How do I make that right, it is just as unacceptable…

I intend to write on this over the next few weeks (as usual with a few distractions) tonight I am grateful for friends, family, warmth and love.


Of concerts and responsibility

Driving in my car I turned on the radio, then my playing on the radio was, oh no wrong post. Last year I posted about wanting to go to the winery concert, thought it would be a good idea, entertained the thought for a while then flagged it, too expensive, Continue reading

Oamaru, Timaru, Waipukurau, Pokeno Mercer, Tuakau

Not quite Ka Mate, but it sufficed for us as very young children, t was our version of a haka.  The words were intoned as authentically as we could and upon Tuakau we would grimace and leap into the air making our best pukana faces as possible. Continue reading

I hate bare floors

So said a cousin to me recently.  We were discussing the carpets in his home that he had been renting out.  It brought back to my mind my childhood.  We were renters until I was 12, when my parents bought a home.  There were quite a few that I remember and some I can’t however one of the enduring memories was the cold floors.  Insulation in homes at that time in the 60’s and seventies was unheard of. The homes we rented were old, and generally had no curtains, perhaps roller blinds (that’s another story). Invariably they had some sort of a passageway which as soon as mum was able would be furnished with a runner of coconut matting.  This was hard wearing very coarse fibre, it served a couple of purposes, one was decorative.  Greeny blue kind of hues from memory, bound down the edge either side, it was probably sold by the yard. It did a good job of trapping dirt, akin to sandpaper it would scrape the sand or dirt of your feet waiting to be gathered at some stage.  I have vague memories of a very old vacuum cleaner, electrolux most likely but I remember the carpet being taken outside and beaten and the remaining dust and dirt being swept off the floor.  It also served as an instrument of torture, ideal for dragging siblings along resulting in some pretty impressive carpet burns!

I did not equate bare floors with poverty, not one of the things in my mind really, most of the houses I have lived in as an adult have been carpeted including one which had shag pile in the dining room…. go figure.  these days I equate carpets as places where dust mites can congregate, at some stage i am most likely to pull up the carpets in my wooden floored house.  The native tongue and groove flooring is too beautiful to be hidden really.  I prefer wooden floors, they have spring in them, perhaps if I owned a house with concrete floors I may have a change of heart.  Poor curtaining I certainly equate with poverty and other more nefarious and darker things. There are some things that I equate with poverty.  Boiled mince is one of those things.

I remember with some shame in the early days of my marriage my wife (now ex) served up boiled mince for dinner.  I was how shall we say this, intemperate in my response.  You see it provoked a reaction in me.  We as children ate pretty well, the staple meat was sheep meat, rarely beef,chicken was even more scarce and pork well I remember roast pork for New Years Day, I don’t remember it any other time.  Mum was an enthusiastic cook and everything was made with love, which made up for most things, dad made a superb gravy! Potatoes came in a sugar sack 40 pound at a time, when dad didn’t have them from his garden.  We were never in danger form under-cooked vegetables!  Desserts were simple, My favourite was bread pudding, dago, rice and tapioca well not for me is all I will say.  Home preserved fruit and fresh cream straight from the dairy factory where dad worked well that was something else!  But I remember boiled, grey, gluggy,glutinous,mince on occasion and to my mind that was poverty.

I cook mince often these days but it is varied from sphag bol to lasagne, mince chowmein hamburger patties, meatballs. More versatile than sausage but good value and quick to prepare.  Today as I thought about this post i was thinking of how much I would like a leg of Mutton, not lamb or even hogget but old-school mutton.  Way beyond my price point these days the cheapest meat would have to be chicken, a far cry from my childhood.

Tomorrow I become unemployed my contract is finished at school.  Right now if I were a horse I would be shot, I have a couple of severe injuries and according to the specialist probable permanent nerve damage, it is frustrating to sit around, and be able to do so little at the moment.  i rebel against it every now and then but then pay a high price for even very moderate activity, the other day after i got out of a swimming pool, ( a hot soak after a gentle 4 k circuit around  Mauao or Mount Maunganui or the Mount as it is known by many) I had to sit down where I was before I fell down.  I contemplated seeking assistance, however the thought of getting a wheel chair and the attendant fuss of that gave me determination to grit my teeth and make it to the changing sheds.  the narrative of disability like that is really unpleasant.

Unemployment in the past has not particularly bothered me.  I am versatile I have earned money in various ways from milking cows, swinging a hammer, driving trucks. it doesn’t  matter i like work.  Not even being able to mow my lawns that is another matter.  Not working equates with poverty in my mind. I hate it and the attendant issues it brings.  The pressures and lifestyle choices that it impacts upon one and my family above all is particularly unpleasant.

I know we will be ok,I know how to live cheaply, I have good friends and great kids that has to be enough for now and i am grateful for it in my life.