There’s a club and you’re not in it

New Zealand’s haves are in a small, exclusive club

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from places around the net.

Today’s tale was recently posted on a commercialised emigration forum, the author is an expat in the UK, and this was their contribution to a thread on the topic of 20% of children living in poverty in New Zealand. Actually, its more like 25 % and New Zealand deliberately has no official measure for poverty.

Here’s the tale.

“A few years ago, when talking to my brother over here in the UK, I asked him what New Zealand was like, how had it changed in all the years I’d been away.

‘It’s become really Americanised’, he replied. Not exactly sure what he meant, but perhaps shredding the social safety net and a commitment to full employment might have been what he was aiming at. New Zealand: unquestionably adopting every nutcase theory coming out of Wisconsin, when many years ago, New Zealand was a model society that other countries tried to emulate. Used to be, many years ago, that those coming out of school in New Zealand with poor prospects for whatever reason, would have found stable and reasonably well-paid employment on the railways or in the meatworks, for instance.

Not sure what education can do in the cases of people working on minimum wages and having to house their family in tents, families sharing 10-12 in a two bedroom house with terrible insulation or countless sick children filling up hospital beds with third world respiratory diseases. Besides, New Zealand has a relatively high standard of education, especially childhood literacy…(E2NZ editor, no it doesn’t posts tagged PISA or Education)

…but instead of showing some insight and understanding how society is becoming increasingly systematically weighted against those with challenges and thinking things through as to how it impacts on the rest of the population in a range of areas from public health to crime and how it cascades down through the generations, it’s far easier and much lazier to point fingers and make sweeping generalisations. Only problem with this, is that for those with the eyes to see, is that this kind of cheap and ugly transparent prejudice is always and only about smugly making yourself feel better at the expense of others.

For those curious about what New Zealand was like before you arrived, or possibly in some cases, when you were a child, before your time, this is worth checking out for some relatively contemporary history:

You can see all eight parts by flicking through the clips on the right hand side of the linked page. Back then, New Zealand might not have been the most vibrant and glamorous of places, but it was certainly a more stable and egalitarian place to live for everybody from all walks of life.

So, when you stop to ponder why houses in New Zealand have become so absurdly expensive and why the cost of living seems to be so high, there used to be a time when that wasn’t so… and then think of how regressive the tax system has become since with GST levied on everything and capital gains remaining untouched. Great to think of how your house price must be steadily climbing… until you stop to think of all that unproductive capital, billions of dollars, all tied up in wooden houses with tin roofs, with money and ownership of assets streaming out of the country to Australian and Asian banks. And the question then arises: what purpose does an economy serve and actually who for?

There is a club… and you are not in it.”

You may also be interested in:

Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – or the lack of it – in NZ (July 2013):

On the day that the NZ Government launched a fresh campaign to rob beneficiaries of their basic human rights (further evidence of the runaway poverty gap the country suffers from) Sovereign life insurance has issued a press release showing that New Zealand fares badly in international standards of wellbeing.

In comparison to 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the leadread on

NZ’s Human Rights Record Stained by Child Poverty, Lack of Investment in its Young: Amnesty International; UNICEF and OECD (May 2013):

270,000 children, yes 270,000, children are now living in poverty in New Zealand, a country infamous for its low wage culture.

New Zealand’s high level of child poverty, violence against women and a proposed law affecting asylum seekers came under fire in Amnesty International’s Annual Report on the state of the world’s human rights.

New Zealand faces most criticism within the country for its high levels of child poverty, according to Grant Bayldon, Executive Director of Amnesty International in New Zealand… read on

NZ Poverty Not A Lifestyle Choice, Poor Families Can’t Even Afford Basics (march 2011)

Published research from the University of Auckland, which  shows that low income families in New Zealand can’t afford to buy basic nutritious food for their children, is now being used by the Child Poverty Action Group to call for more support for families in New Zealand. The results of poor nutrition is being seen in New Zealand’s hospitals every day… read on

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