See no poverty, speak no poverty, hear no poverty isn’t much of a social policy



The true magnitude of the social wound that is Child Poverty has been shown bare in all its terrible glory by the release of new report attempting to track and measure our child poverty…

One in four Kiwi children living in poverty
A new rigorous measure of child poverty released today shows that about one in six Kiwi children are going without basic necessities. This could mean not having a bed, delaying a doctor’s visit or missing out on meals.

It also shows hospital admissions for children with medical conditions linked to poverty are rising. Tens of thousands of children are admitted every year for respiratory and infectious diseases associated with living in damp, overcrowded homes.

“I see these poor preschool children in crowded homes that are cold and damp coming in with skin infections. They are filling our wards,” Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills, a Hawke’s Bay paediatrician, said.

Children, particularly the youngest, remain the most impoverished group of New Zealanders, three times more likely to live in poverty than those past retirement age.

And the gap between those going without and the rest is showing no signs of narrowing, with children born to solo beneficiary parents by far the most likely to get sick or injured.

But child poverty is also reaching far beyond beneficiaries, with about two out of five impoverished kids living in working families. Overall 265,000 children live in poverty, which is measured by children living in households with less than 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs.

…what’s most sickening about this report is been that the research has been funded privately because this Government point blank refuses to measure child poverty so that they can pretend to ignore the problem altogether.

The reason National need to ignore child poverty is because recognition of the problem demands solutions and this Government don’t want to hear those solutions…

Commissioner wants tax credits system changed to help fight poverty-related illness
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills is challenging New Zealanders today to shift support from older, middle-income families to give more to our youngest and poorest children.

Dr Wills, a Hawkes Bay paediatrician, is issuing the first of what he plans to be an annual update on trends in child poverty and poverty-related illnesses such as breathing difficulties and skin infections.

The update shows child poverty roughly doubled in the early 1990s and has fallen little since, and that child hospitalisations with poverty-related illnesses rose and fell in parallel with poverty and have risen again since the global recession hit in 2007 to a record high last year.

…when a Government are only interested in giving tax cuts to the rich, poverty denial becomes the default setting when discussing the ramifications of that social greed on the poorest members of society.

When child poverty illness is doing this…

Child poverty ills rising
A “shocking” increase in the number of children being admitted to hospital with illnesses caused by poverty is revealed in a major new report.

…and child abuse numbers are doing this…

Child abuse tally up, not down
Increasing numbers of children have been physically and emotionally abused in the past few years – starkly contradicting welfare officials’ claims.

…while child poverty stats are doing this…

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…how the living Christ can the solution be this kind of ‘dawn raid’ style welfare fascism…

House checks possible for solo parents on benefit
Snoopers could soon be calling on solo parents to check whether they are still living alone, as part of the Government’s clampdown on benefit fraudsters.

The measure, if introduced, would mean every solo parent would receive a “home visit” 14 weeks after going on to a benefit to make sure they were not committing fraud.

Papers released under the Official Information Act show officials hope the visits can help to uncover parents who are no longer single but are still fraudulently claiming a benefit.

…we are building an empire of suffering while limiting state aid to those deemed deserving of such help. This is a social decay purposely implemented for idealogical reasons, not empirical evidence based welfare. Such compromised welfare brutality traps those under its weight and kills hope. How the great egalitarian country has allowed itself to be seduced by easy beneficiary bashing as an answer is an indictment on the Seven Sharp level of public broadcasting debate.

See no poverty, speak no poverty, hear no poverty isn’t much of a social policy, but then again, Paula Bennett isn’t much of a Minister.


  1. Well spoken again Martyn, their neoliberal discourse allows no discussion of outside variables such as poverty. In the neoliberal cloud cuckoo land there are no poor people, only people who have not yet pursued the ‘good’ life. Far be it for them to take from the rich who are only practicing the right and freedom to pursue the ‘good’ life to give to those and their children who fail to pursue the ‘good’ life … kinda depends on how one defines the ‘good’ life I guess. These children and others who suffer as a result of poor social and economic policy are the true face of the right to be free from government interference, the so-called benefit of small government … Keep up the efforts to confront and change the discourse Martyn

  2. Tony Ryall is a master of manipulation and also of intimidation. He is throwing around all these great statistics about what the government supposedly “achieved”, which is only bits of the whole truth. Yes, immunisation rates have improved for Maori, and yes, there have as a whole been more elective surgery operations.

    But the immunisation of Maori children alone does not address poor health and poverty, and it certainly does not fill the stomachs of those kids. Nor has elective surgery kept up with the demand for such.

    Tony Ryall is also known to basically intimidate health workers, as he oversees his Ministry and departments as a hardliner, with little sympathy for the pressures the workers face while working with insufficient resources.

    Paula Bennett and the Minister for Housing Nick Smith go on about home insulation, and about poverty not having got worse since 2008 or 2009. But I have seen some of these “home insulations” in Housing NZ homes, and it is miniscule efforts being made, perhaps “warming” up homes by two to three degrees, still leaving many cold and damp. Putting some foil under floor-boards and some padding above the ceiling, that does not do much, when there are poorly glazed windows, doors with cracks and gaps, and walls that have no insulation inside.

    A heat pump on the wall, next to a drafty window, will do little to heat a home, rather push up electricity bills. While I welcome the humble efforts being made, as a little step in the right direction, much more is needed.

    All that does not address the income situation of poor parents, and their kids, and keeping the minimum wage low, and not paying a living wage for hard work, and paying benefits that often do not cover all, as beneficiary parents do not get advised on all they are entitled to, also getting support not keeping up with high market rentals and so, it solves little at all.

    No wonder that Bennett and her buddies like to distract, as they have been caught out not delivering on all the words of “helping” people to get out of poverty and ill health.

    Then we even get this mad, insane professor Mansel Aylward (former “Chief Medical Officer” for the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK, then contracted “researcher” paid for by a corrupt insurance corporation by the name of Unum Provident) come here, advise Bennett and her MSD departments, to get sick and disabled into work, as that is “therapeutic”. It sounds too much like “work will set you free” kind of stuff.

    In the meantime, all this crowing about jobs, it means little, as there still are few real jobs people can live off, see the taxi drivers striking outside Auckland Airport.

    This government is manipulating and dressing up statistics, figures and picks reports that suit them, but they hide the truth about New Zealand.

    Shame on them, get rid of them!

    The true causes of poverty are:

    It is poverty that creates worsening health and other social problems, it is not simply “worklessness” and “failing parents”, as this highly judgmental, one eyed, stupid government tries to tell us!

  3. You know, I wonder about the effects of ‘damp, cold houses’, on health.


    Because many of those same houses have been around since the 1950s – and we didn’t have the hundreds of kids ending up in hospital with skin diseases and pneumonia and asthma then. Mind you, it was a little easier to get to a doctor, if you lived in town. Otherwise, you coped at home.

    Schools were chilly in winter and hygiene was basic (bring your own towel) yet kids were, apart from a few, mostly healthy.

    Homes were heated with coal or wood fires or electric (depending on the power cuts) – and that was for one or two rooms, not every room.

    There was a lot less junk food though. And ‘the shops’ were in walking distance for mums with little kids and a push chair but no car. And food and rent were a little more affordable than now, though not remarkably.

    Damp houses. So many?! They won’t be solved by more money – unless it is to install ventilation to deal with the winter condensation.

    (You don’t have to be rich to have a cleaning cloth and a container for wiping down the windows after a frosty night. I’ve seen women with two or more pre-schoolers actually doing this to protect their curtains and keep the rooms dry. For an at-home parent there is NO excuse for not taking care of damp or airing the house out, weather permitting. It’s been done for generations.)

    They will be solved by those idlers at the various town and city councils ensuring that the houses built or renovated in their areas affordably meet rising standards – and aren’t built on flood-prone sites. Can we do that? Perhaps…

    While the focus is on ‘poor kids’ and ‘poverty’ the culprits are having a hand-wringing and blame fest. Time for some accountability and remedial action where the problems are being generated. Can we do that? Perhaps…

    • I lived in a damp, cold house for 12 years. My daughter had croup, I had bronchitis, sinus infections and developed rheumatoid arthritis. We took the wardrobe doors off because otherwise everything got mouldy. We couldn’t afford insulation (or to heat more than one room) and the ceilings would become black with mould (and yes, I did clean them). The curtains would rot with mould and in the winter I had to pull the beds away from the walls because of dripping condensation. I believe it has to do with poor house design and poorly-drained clay sub-soil. My present house is on sandy free-draining soil and I have no mould.

  4. We all know what the problem looks like and we all want to fix it .

    This is perhaps why we have the problem .

    While we have Three Wicked Witches relishing the job of torturing us , the problem will take on exponential dimensions and before long we’ll have prisons stuffed with lost souls . Oh , wait ? We have that now don’t we ?

    @ Marc . The sinister aspect of our ‘government ‘ isn’t that it’s stupid . Quite the opposite in fact . Nationals members are very intelligent and capable . They’re just fucking nasty bastards . Rich , powerful , influential , nasty , cruel , bastards . They couldn’t bare it of life was without turmoil . There would be nothing about peace and tranquility to challenge their insanity .
    We’d best come up to speed on just how down right nasty they are . Why do you think they keep forging ahead despite clear evidence that shows that poverty does exist in NZ and it causes terrible , on going problems of profound dysfunction ?
    They like it . They get a thrill , a frisson from being so powerful that they can make others suffer . I know people like that . Dangerous , evil fuckers .
    The best thing to do is get rid of them so as we can ignore them . That’s what they would hate the most . To be ignored . Their egos would shrivel to a husk and it’d kill them .

  5. Andrea,
    I was a poor child in the 50’s – and yes houses were cold and damp in winter – but heating ( as a percentage of average income) was hugely cheaper than it is now. Moreover we had full employment and award wages.
    Rent certainly was more affordable than now. The State charged less than 25% of income (imagine!). Because of this and the possibility for most to purchase their own homes, using state advances loans, capitalisation of family benefit and low interest rates, the private rental sector could not charge anything like the 60% of income that is now routinely charged.
    Nevertheless, I don’t know whether kids were healthier then (as you claim). I certainly recall school sores, head lice and whooping cough – this in spite of our early years being measured and mentored by Plunket (remember them?), visits to school by public health nurses and health camps for children in need of intervention.
    Whatever the truth, let’s not use the 1950’s to measure ourselves by today. As I remember those years, we were a racist, narrow society. Sixty years on, we are a much wealthier society that ought to eschew blame and simply get on and ensure that all children have good health, a first world education and a sound future.

  6. Totally agree that we have sociopaths running this country. That as a society we should be judged by how we treat our bottom rung. That we should have a better wealth distribution system through a more equitible taxation policy like transaction tax and speculation tax etc etc. Believe in the left etc etc and that the neo-liberal agenda has been a disaster for all but the parasites like shonkey and co…But sorry got to say if your earning prospects are poor in this day and age in the society that we actually have to live in at this time (this shit actually started 30 years ago-1984 onwards) because of low education or whatever then there is no god given right to have a large family. That is these adults chosing to bring lots of kids into such circumstance are as cupable for child poverty as the ongoing crap social policies that impact on the average person. I know this is a sentiment of the conservatives and yes I raised 4 kids on a single income as a tradie in times of fuller employment and at times after 1987 I depended on the government for help. But I would like to think that people have a lot more history to draw on for how little help there now is. Go for it thumb downers!

    • That is these adults chosing to bring lots of kids into such circumstance are as cupable for child poverty as the ongoing crap social policies that impact on the average person.

      Oh good lord, how many times do I have to repeat the basic facts…

      2007/08: unemployment at 3.5% (78,000)
      2011/12: unemployment reached 7.3% (173,000)


      That was an increase of 95,000.

      Did 95,000 fellow New Zealanders chuck in their jobs in one vast bout of mass hysteria to exist on $196 a week (net)?!

      Of course not. That is an insane proposition and right wingers won’t come out and stay it straight out. Instead they refer more deceptively as “making lifestyle choices”.

      Since when was becoming redundant because of a Global Financial Crisis a “lifestyle choice”?!

      In the mid 2000s, the numbers of those on the DPB were actually dropping. (see: )

      Again, it was only post 2008 that numbers started rising again.

      And we all know what happened in 2008.

      I know this is a sentiment of the conservatives and yes I raised 4 kids on a single income as a tradie in times of fuller employment and at times after 1987 I depended on the government for help.

      The point, Max, is that the state help you relied on is no longer the same as what is available today. For example, Bennett has canned the Training Incentive Allowance which allowed many on the DPB to upskill. That traps people more than anything, instead of giving them a hand up. (see:

      Blaming those receiving state support (welfare recipients) is easy and requires no original, critical, thinking. It just means parroting the same simplistic BS that right wingers come up with as an excuse for neo-liberalisms failures.

      Check out rightwinger, Psycho Milt, on this thread on ‘The Standard’ being totally evasive when I presented hard economic facts to him: (His final response to economic facts and figures is “fuck you”. Hardly convincing.)

      You might care to reflect on one thing; how many unemployed, solo-parents, low-income, etc, sit around the Cabinet table making economic decisions?

      Consider that point for a moment.

  7. @ Max Thomas . So you speak for God ? That must make you feel pretty damn important then ?
    Since you speak for God you must therefore be having a two way conversation so could you ask the lazy bastard for next weeks lotto numbers for me . He/she/it can email them to me . The GCSB can supply He / She / It with my address .

    • The Neo liberal “trickle down” model that was introduced during the mid to late 1980s does not work. My preferred name for the model in Maori is “teko down” Structurally the model favours those who are already in financial positions of power. Through blaming, makes victims of the less fortunate and creates an underclass of oppressed. We should not forget the affect and consequences of oppression to society.

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