GUEST BLOG: David Tank – How inequality forced me from my home


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Alan Gamlen: Inequality drives many to quit NZ
Emigration is driven not only by opportunities, but also by inequalities. The OECD has issued alarming advice for governments to take “urgent action to tackle rising inequality and social divisions”. New Zealand has left these issues unaddressed for too long, and we need to acknowledge it is one of the reasons why our people keep leaving.

I have some demands.

As a Kiwi who has come home and had his voting rights restored I have three demands to make should any New Zealand Government wish to earn my respect. And a lot of other New Zealander’s respect too for that matter. I was 27 and 500 dollars away from flat broke when I landed in Australia back in 93. NZ had burnt me, I had had enough.

I also had no desire to struggle through what I knew was going to be my lot with my family and friends looking on. Nor did I want to do it in a homeland that had been hijacked by a mean spirited and corrupt ideology designed to impoverish, or, for that matter, surrounded by a people as weak and ignorant as to allow that impoverishment. So I left.

I was happy to leave a country where a minority of right wing zealots were let loose on our apathetic and gutless majority.

I did not want to be around people who had let the basic benefit fall to less than enough to feed a person.

I did not want to be around people who allowed their country to be looted by foreign banks and multi nationals, by people who thought it was a good idea to destroy the Unions, to punish the poor.

Frankly I was sick to death of the lot of you.

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I left July 4 1993 and called it my own little independence day then I went and found my shack in the desert. Thank God for Australia (and Australians). I took citizenship. Good times and bad. It took me 20 years to really want to come home.

I did not want to find that in New Zealand it is always just the same shit on a different day but I knew I would. Tax cuts for the rich and jail for the poor. Samo, samo.

But mostly I think it is the food thing that still sticks in my throat.

In 1990 the dole was cut to a level knowingly 20 per cent less than what was considered adequate to provide the bare minimum nutritional level.

That cut was never rescinded.

I was almost still a proud New Zealander and my government said we starved people.

The thought of it done in my name still makes me swear. This was not my beautiful country, not my beautiful life. This was not what our people had worked so hard and long to build.

It was never a part of the New Zealand national identity to starve people.

That these cuts still stand is a national disgrace.

Now before you tell me to fuck off back to Australia then if I hate NZ so much (as a number of you do when I say this) I’ll say fuck off right back.

My five generations in this country and my family’s contribution to building it and not to forget my own efforts inform my right to speak my mind.

As does my citizenship.

I was raised to understand two things about why our ancestors came to New Zealand; to build a better life for themselves and to build a better way of life for all.

Food banks are not a better way of life for anybody.

Our current way of life is not a better way of life for all or even for most of us. What’s more we all know it can’t last.

It must change.

Here is demand number one.

John Key says there is a billion dollars extra spending in the budget. If he had a real idea of what to do for his people the first thing he would do is raise the dole and stop starving beneficiaries a little bit at a time. A direct income transfer is the most effective way to alleviate poverty to feed people properly. It will feed into higher wages too.

So raise the dole.

Ah but it’s Johnno Key’s National Party so he’ll lipstick the pig instead and throw a sausage on every barbeque by Christmas! He’ll probably use the food banks to get them out to the poor folks. After all Kiwis’s living under bridges in Sydney are not his problem as they lose the right to vote after three years. The more poor that leave for Australia the better it is for him too, it keeps the lie that his ideology works while hiding the extent of its failure by exporting the human evidence.

My sense of my own National Identity and idea of what a National Identity is has grown over time. I’ve learnt that you can live far away from your homeland and still be passionately engaged in ensuring its well being and its defense even why being also passionately engaged in ensuring the well being and defense of your new home; if that’s your thing.

I have learnt that you can love two countries and learnt that my opinion and democratic rights are no less valuable because of it. My sense of nationality includes all five and a half million kiwi’s not just the four and a half million
who currently call New Zealand home and I do not believe that those blessed by circumstance and choice to have stayed at home should have had the right to remove my right to vote. Particularly those among you who have made these laws and set these low rates and by doing so starved so many of us out. You have disrespected all of us by this act.

So here is demand number two – amend the 1993 Electoral Act and give back the vote to every Kiwi, even the ones who can’t afford to come home. We are all New Zealander’s, the ones here and overseas, even the poor ones. You do not only see the cost of our ongoing mean spirited unKiwi behaviour in the poorer areas of this country you also see it on the streets of Australian cities and in the hostels and soup lines. New Zealander’s who cannot come home and have nothing to return to even if they did, those who are dependent on the help of charities for survival and have no voice here. You also see it amongst those who are working and thriving in Australia and are denied a pathway to citizenship, are denied medical services and the right for their children to access education. Who are denied rights all other migrant groups in Australia can have. Rights given up by a New Zealand Government no doubt in shame at having dumped both the so called virtuous and the undeserving poor onto Australia’s cheque book and who by doing so added another betrayal of what it used to mean to be a New Zealander.

Demand number three? Fight in Australia for a pathway to Citizenship for our people and pony up the cash to get our people over there that need a dole payment some money right now. Send a message to Australia that these laws must change and that we will be part of that change.

In short, want my respect? Respect yourselves and your ancestor’s better natures and repudiate the mean spirited disease of the last 30 years. Start to build a new compact with the people, one that includes everyone. Then at least I and many of the others who gave up in disgust or left in need, can look the rest of you in the eye with less reproach.

And maybe even some of that old love.

David Tank was born in Timaru and raised in Tauranga; he came home 18 months ago. He has been a journalist, a salesman, a public servant, a singing dancing waiter and many other things, too many to mention. His political heroes are Jack Lee and Mustafa Ataturk. He wants his country back.


  1. good onya David. You are a man after my heart. I have had a very similar life experience to yours and love Australia too because I have financial security due my years spent living and working there. My children though have not been as fortunate. although they are employed over there in well paying jobs they are very much the second class citizens you describe. I feel the same level of disgust and disrespect for my fellow kiwis as you do ( and I am a 6th generation NZer) You’re a breath of fresh of air . The outright ignorance and uncaring attitude towards this grave situation ( non citizens who pay taxes and have no rights) displayed by the chair of my local LEC has made me reconsider voting Labour this year. The sad fact is kiwis are a shallow , ignorant, greedy apathetic bunch of arseholes who by and large do not give a fuck about Aussie, or our relationship with our nearest neighbours. And they care not a jot for the hardworking kiwis who make their lives in Australia.

    • Why should NZers care more for ex-pats in Aussie than say NZers in the UK or the US or wherever?

      These people voluntarily left NZ, supposedly for a better life, most with the knowledge that the place they were moving to restricted their access to state provided support and help.

      They don’t pay taxes here and are on the whole not contributing to NZ’s economic or social progress while living overseas (although granted they might when they come back).

      It is also not true there is no path to citizenship for these people.

      • Speaking of Gosmann’s sister brother daughter loving ACT friends:

        “They don’t pay taxes here and are on the whole not contributing to NZ’s economic or social progress while living here (although granted they might if they were forced to by a proletarian militia).”

      • I was not “forced from my home” I left in disgust. As to “these people” try “my fellow New Zealander’s”. These people! Good grief. Not contributing to New Zealand (much) – but might do it they come back? Trying to have it both ways Gosman? You would be surprised if you knew just what some ex pats have done for our country. Unless you had actually read a history book that is. No comment on my three demands I note. Votes and Food

        • Votes and food.

          I’m not sure i want to give any NZ citizen, in any country, an unconditional right to vote. That would make them a ‘back seat driver’ if you get my drift. I think it should be a condition that voters must have permanent residency in NZ to vote. That would mean that the voters who get swayed by electoral bribes and try to vote themselves rich must suffer the consequences of their actions and not skip across the ditch to avoid the inevitable fiscal shitstorm that will undoubtedly follow.

          As for food, you do not talk about needing food in the true sense of the word. You talk of “raise the dole” and “a direct income transfer.” A sort of ‘I want more money, give me more money because I think I deserve more money’ sort of thing going on.

          • And the ones who voted for a better life for most – yet got ‘the fiscal shitstorm’ – and lack the means to skip across the ditch? What about them, in this scenario?

            Provided you’re a Kiwi, holding single or dual nationality for this country – then why shouldn’t you vote? – unless you specifically opt out. It’s so easy online to both stay up to date and vote.

            I’m becoming less convinced by the ‘apathetic’ label, too. More like ‘phlegmatic’ and ‘this, too, shall pass’. Or ‘shit happens’, shrug, help if you can, pass on if you can’t. The number of volatile shouty people who turn out for protests and events isn’t so large. The Tall Poppy Reapers are on the job, day and night, to keep things jogging along. The True Kiwi Way, too right.

            Tell you what: toddle down to WINZ and sign on for anything. Solo parent; that’d be the trick. Get your pittance. Stay on it for a few months. Eat stodgy cheap high carb-low nutrient food for all that time. Watch your belly bloat and your skin go flaky. Enjoy having your brain slow down to ‘yeah-nah-whatevs’ and then come back and babble about the ‘true sense of the word’ about real food. Can do?

            Have you any idea how incredibly hard it is to get the idea that most people aren’t on the bludge – yet don’t want to crash into the unyielding rock of the bottom so they’re too squashed to return to where they were before – through to people such as yourself? That smug ignorance…That stinty, meany attitude… The True Kiwi Way? Yeah. Right.

  2. Ah, a fact free zone. Brilliant. Let’s put a wind turbine near your mouth, so at least we’ll get something productive from your innane rant

    • Lol -as it happens the working title was “rant”. Fact free zone? More like an eye witness account. No comment on my demands I note or are votes and food inane overcache?

  3. Ah , we meet again @ Gasman . You’re shallow arguments are seeming more so by the day .
    I’m wondering ? You can read but you seem to have poor comprehension skills so I wonder if you are in fact … well to put it delicately , not that bright .

    Did you not read that David Tank had the decision to move forced upon him ? As do most New Zealanders who move away from their Paradise .

    It’s a decision forced on people because of soulless cunts like you and you’re collective parasitic cunning at how to manoeuvre the money of others which invariably means that , that money is removed from circulation only to have [it] returned as debt . It’s a control thing wielded against a society weakened , again , by cunts like . Bankers and money fetishists .

    And do you know the irony of you and you’re ilk ? The irony is that if your kind were not in power , you’d be treated well . You’d not be here dripping your poisons . You’d be safe , warm and well fed . You’re kids wouldn’t be going hungry . Families wouldn’t be separated by oceans .
    What we have is the opposite of that since your kind are in control . Look at your handy work . Look . At . Your . Handy . Work ! !

    What do you see ? How can you defend that ?

    The people who you defend are monsters .

    paula bennett ? There’s something seriously , mentally wrong with her .

    hekia parata . Look what she’s doing to a population of people living in a city that’s had more than twelve thousand earthquakes and is effectively in ruins on many levels and yet she’s dividing communities and freaking out little kids . She could have waited until the City had returned to some degree of normalcy but she’s there , smiling like a serial killer as she knows she’s causing harm to kids and deep distress to parents .

    How do you defend that behaviour @ Gasman ?

    gerry brownlee , renown bully and fat cunt , his piggy eyes glitter when he knows he’s causing pain .

    judith collins ? Liar and swindler . She’s been caught red handed and tits deep in a conflict of interests with her clearly greedy , opportunistic hubby . He looks fatter than some 280,000 Kiwi kids I could point a sandwich at .

    How , in Gods name can you come out swinging for those bastards ?

    What are you hiding ?

  4. So you moved away from one neo-liberal economy to another neo-liberal economy but it’s the neo-liberal economy that’s the problem?

    I presume you back the mining of Uranium and other resources as it is that which underpins the wealth of the Australian economy. You were happy to share in that wealth. Are you happy to vote against such policies in New Zealand and deny others the very means that allowed you to live a fulfilling life?

    New Zealand is a fair society. If you want to work there are plenty of pathways you can take in order to make a contribution to New Zealand. Sadly we have a feral underclass that simmers away untouched by politicians who are too scared to do anything about it. It’s an underclass that doesn’t want to contribute and it is this underclass that is a drag on the 95% who do want to contribute to a better New Zealand.

    In life we are the product of our decisions. Nothing is forced upon us and if you’re looking to blame someone for having only $500 at age 27 grab a mirror.

    • I’m not sure if you are at all a real Matthew, but one thing is for sure, your comments are those of a real, pompous, self-righteous compassionless arse.

      • The Real Matthew is, in my opinion, right on the mark on every count. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

        I have two brothers in the UK/Ireland and a sister in South Australia. All went on their O/E after working and saving to pay their own way and decided to stay to make the most of the higher populations of those countries offering a better opportunity in their chosen careers through a critical mass that a sparsely populated NZ cannot offer. It must be said, however, that two out of three of them (Aussie and London) said adamantly that if they choose to have children, they would want to raise them in NZ and not the ‘rat race’ that they live in.

        Is it a coincidence that all 3 of the ‘demands’ placed on New Zealanders by David Tank are demands on the legitimately earned income of ordinary New Zealanders making a productive contribution to their country and their own lives? I think not.

        So it seems that the reward for hard work in a hard left ideal world is more hard work to pay for the lifestyle of those who choose to remain unproductive or make bad life decisions.

        It seems that in a David Tank utopia both Nz and Oz are ‘the lucky country’ and that the privileged few are the up to now ungrateful receivers of unearned wealth.

    • Nothing fair about NZ now mate – the tossers are in power and the crooks are the only ones making any money. Casinos, developers, ‘investors’ – every kind of unproductive rent-seeking parasite under the sun.

      You can only like it if you’re one of that tribe. But you’re dispensible in a way the real workers are not. You are the problem. Neo-liberalism was sold on a promise of increased prosperity it never delivered.

      Time to go back to what works.

    • The Neo-liberal Economy! Thanks The Real Mathew for the phrase, I had forgotten it. No Australia is not a Neo-liberal economy. Uranium Mining! Did you Google Australia before picking your first diversion or just pick a favourite and trite trope from the arse end of your hat? A Fair Society? Feral Underclass? Blame? Good God. Whoever are you arguing against? No answers to any of my demands tho. Votes and Food.

      • No Australia is not a Neo-liberal economy

        Well…..yes it is, – not to the extent NZ is, but……and it’s about to become even more so under the Mad Abbot and Big Joe.
        All I have to do is last another 3 yrs, then I can sell up and come home – but, the signs are not good…….

        • By my defn it’s not a neoliberal economy until organised labour has been comprehensively smashed.

          Australia’s unions are under severe attack but still holding.

          In contrast, between 1985 and 1988 NZ’s unions aided and abetted their own destruction, actually helping Roger to set up the conditions that allowed Ruth to finish them off in the 90s.

          • Yes Richard Christie, the best thing to happen would be to “smash organised labour.” No more organised labour would put an end to labour organisations, unions, collective agreements and even striking and any form of industrial action. Because an end to organised labour would also mean an end to the freedom of association and to form a group to stand collectively, because organised labour goes both ways.

            Workers in this country are being poorly represented by fat cat union bosses who care only for their own self interest. The reason why the majority of contributors to this blog claim that they are not getting paid enough is because union leaders have traded conditions in Leau of pay rises. Why? Because the money for pay rises is not there in small to medium businesses. So you settle for an extra weeks annual leave here, time-and-a-half and a day off in leau there and voila…. Small businesses have their productivity eroded again.

            Be careful what you wish for

  5. These people voluntarily left NZ, supposedly for a better life, most with the knowledge that the place they were moving to restricted their access to state provided support and help.

    Well, no actually – most of them don’t. And it’s a shock when they find out – usually when it’s far too late!

    It is also not true there is no path to citizenship for these people

    Yes there is, but it is considerably more difficult than for, say, the Chinese and Sri Lankans I work with.

    • In your mind people spend thousands of dollars and a lot of effort to go to Australia but no time finding out about the country and the specific policies that will impact them when they arrive. And you think these sorts of people deserve to be given the vote back here????

      • Gosman your generalisations are worthy of contempt. How do you know “people spend thousands of dollars and a lot of effort to go to Australia but no time finding out about the country and the specific policies that will impact them when they arrive”??

        Where do you get that from? How many of these “people” are there? What are their circumstances? Why is it any business of yours? And when was the last time you paid a contribution to this blogsite to post your garbage? Or are you feeling a strong sense of entitlement to comment here without paying?

        • You don’t seem to read the contents of the threads with much comprehension Priss. If you look at my reply you will see I am pointing out that JonL’s position is ridiculous. You have basically agreed with me. Thanks for that.

  6. Well said David Tank, stay here and make a difference. Food, fundamental human right we all have the right to expect. Government has the responsibility to enable. We live in a country renowned for its bounty, yet our people are trained to believe the best of it is a privilege only afforded to those in upper middle income brackets, the rest get whatever they can afford -or may be ‘granted’ by the good grace of the foodbank donations or the supermarket ‘own’ brand specials -all full of ‘bulk fillers’ and artificial additives. Before the surface thinkers start shouting ‘garden, you lazy oik’ I say, ‘first one needs land to garden in, and the poor aren’t allowed that either, and then you need daylight hours left to work in a garden, all people on low income who are working are doing more than 50 hour weeks to pay the rent and power bills. FOOD has become the ‘expendable’ variable expense. David is quite right. Fix it first!

    • Oh so now it’s a “fundamental human right” to food. You, Cheryl Jackson have the same access to food in any country as anyone else, that is not the point. The point is…..who do we expect to pay for your food? I pay for food for myself, my immediate family, the beneficiaries of the food donations I make to the Salvation Army, and a minute share of the compulsory donation I make through my income taxes toward the welfare state.

      We are all doing our share (and more) here and I for one take offence to your attempt to make me feel guilty for (in your opinion) not doing enough and not paying enough. Yes, food is a necessity, but it is not a basic human right. The right to liberty and the freedom to grow, gather, produce or procure food without fear of persecution is a basic human right.

      You and every other liberal apologist who insist that what is yours is yours and what is mine is ours do not own me.

    • Why do you think ex-pat Kiwis living in Australia deserve monetary support from NZ Taxpayers when they themselves don’t pay any taxes in NZ?

      • Why Gosman? Plenty of businesses receive corporate welfare and tax-subsidies and we never hear you bleat about them. But the moment someone needs money to buy food to put on the table, suddenly that raises your hackles? Your concerns are noted.

        • Pretty sure I am on record for opposing the sort of corporate welfare you are discussing. I have certainly never been in favour of it (other than pointing out how National has undercut Labour on this issue).

  7. Ah, so much nonsense to refute and so little time.

    Let’s start with this:

    “Tax cuts for the rich and jail for the poor.”

    No, all income earners received tax cuts. And we only jail convicted criminals. Rich and poor.

    • Yes indeed – the criminal justice system is chiefly remarkable for those who escape it. Those $6 billion per year in tax evasions are mostly performed by a few hundred ACT supporters. Not really very hard to track them down in a little country like NZ.

  8. Let’s add one more item to your list David – electricity. Our dams were built by our people and for our people. Power to the people!

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