What WINZ are callously saying to people even when they know people are listening



I went to WINZ last week to claim my transition to work grant because I’d finally found a job. I didn’t get the grant in the end even though it is, or should I say, was my entitlement but this is beside the point. When a security guard buzzed me into the WINZ office, (after the shooting of two WINZ case workers down in Ashburton they have tightened their security) I walked up to the counter where a young Pākehā guy who I will call Paul*, was in front of me pleading for an appointment.

“I have not eaten in two days, I’m so starving. I need a food grant” Paul told the receptionist as he took scraps of paper from his pocket that turned out to be his bank statements revealing a zero balance and a maxed-out credit card.

The receptionist responded:

“I’m sorry you should have made an appointment or budgeted better.”

Despite the receptionist’s callous, and in my opinion brutal, response Paul kept pleading over and over again until finally the security guard asked him to take a seat.

I said to the receptionist “You just blatantly lied to that you guy. There are always emergency appointments for desperate situations. Was he not desperate enough for you?” She ignored me and asked for my name.

I sat down one seat in front of Paul who had just been turned away from WINZ and told him about the emergency appointments that, seeing as it was midday, should still be available. He thanked me and again went up to the receptionist, repeated what I had told him, and got an appointment that he would most likely wait several hours for.

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My heart went out to this guy.  I have been in his situation before, begging for a food grant at WINZ. It can be a humiliating and frustrating experience.

Paul came back to his seat behind me and I heard him make a phone call. When someone picked up he said “I think I have got a food grant we will eat food tonight, at least.”


I felt my eyes well up.

I turned to this guy and asked as politely as I could, “Do you mind me asking, how’d you get so broke, babe? No judgement – I hate the WINZ system. I write for a political blog I’d like to hear your story.”

“It was either food or power. This month we choose power because of the penalties you have to pay if you miss payment.” Paul said.

I just want to repeat the part where Paul said “this month.” Clearly this was not the first time he has had to make the decision to go without either food or power.

“You try living off 250 bucks a week and tell me how to fucking budget?” Paul said to me.

If anyone out there can tell me how people are meant to live off so little in one of the world’s most expensive cities without forgoing basic necessities like food, I am all ears. As Nadia Abu-Shanab, who at the time was working for Action Against Poverty said in May of this year,

“We work with people every day who have been squeezed to the limit by a punitive approach to beneficiaries and the unemployed. We have seen incomes drop significantly in parts of Auckland. This winter, an untold number will face freezing homes and empty stomachs.”

Nadia makes clear what we already know: Paul’s situation is not unique in Aotearoa. There are thousands struggling to survive in a city where rents and food prices have soared. Wages have not increased to match these rising living costs. Despite this, our government persists in telling us we just need to work harder – as if hard work was a magic trick for fixing a broken system.

WINZ only gives you “just enough to survive on” as my first case manager said to me four years ago, after graduating university. Paul and Nadia’s words should be a reality check: welfare is not enough to live on for the majority of unemployed people dealing with the massive global job crisis.

Our benefit system’s ethos of “unemployed people only deserve just enough to survive on” is in itself problematic. Regardless of your situation, if you need help from the state because you lost your job, can no longer work due to disability, injury, or mental health issue or for whatever reason – don’t you deserve to do more than just survive?

When you are vulnerable and down, you have the right to be treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and kindness by whatever government is in power. Don’t you deserve to know you are loved and valued no matter how much profit you are or are not turning over?

Instead of compassion from our government, they are leaving our most vulnerable behind as blogger and advocate for Action Against Poverty Katie Dickie-Davis wrote recently for The Daily Blog:

“Last week people queued at the doors of the Auckland City Mission. They are people that are living without enough income to afford the basics let alone the extras we as a society have come to expect at Christmas. Extras like presents for the children and a feed on Christmas Day.”

Aotearoa has never been so unequal. The OCED recently released a landmark report showing that economies the world over are “being hamstrung by growing inequality  – New Zealand was the worst effected,” as the Guardian reported.

John Key has dismissed the report. As Dickie-Davis went on to say

“Key has quite a history of denying inequality. Following his election win he did however state he wanted to reduce child poverty. Hmm. Colour me fucking puzzled? Denying inequality, dismissing the findings of report after report and yet admitting there might be some child poverty. Obviously someone is wrong.”

Just over a week ago I was walking late at night to a friend’s apartment at the bottom of Queen Street, when a group of young teenagers crossed my path. They were homeless. I ended up talking to a sixteen-year old girl who had been on the streets since she was fourteen. Her parents do not want anything to do with her she told me, and now she is pregnant and has no idea what she is going to do. This young girl told me John Key does not give a fuck about her and while laughing and throwing her head back she acclaimed “let’s put bombs in the beehive”.

We are one of the few developed countries in the world that has no national strategy to combat homelessness. Youth homelessness has grown since 2008 and Paula Bennett’s punitive welfare reforms targeted youth benefits.

The National government is sending a clear message to young people who are homeless and others struggling to stay above the poverty line: we don’t care if you fucking starve to death.



Post Script:

I wrote at the start of this blog that I have finally found a job! Not some crap low paid job either. For the first time I am being paid a liveable wage and I am using all those degrees I earnt. I have been hired as the Editor of Debate magazine at AUT. I feel incredibly humbled to be working at AUT in a position which will allow me to connect daily with students and hear their voices. I am at the very start of a rebrand and relaunch of the magazine, much of my time will be dedicated to seeing this through. I will no longer be blogging for The Daily Blog as frequently as I have done in the past. I hope to contribute to the Daily when I can.

Thank you to all the people who believed in me, gave me praise and yes, criticisms. Your support and robust debate has been invaluable. There are no words I can use to express my thanks to Martyn who spent at least 6 months urging me to write for him. Thank God I finally got over my lack of self-belief and committed to writing for The Daily Blog just under a year ago. It has been an affirming and incredible experience for me, writing soothes the soul.

Ngā Mihi

Chloe King.




  1. Congratulations Chole on your new job!

    Most of middle Nuu Zilind really believe that poor people are just lazy feckers who can’t budget and who spend all their money on booze and ciggies. They have no idea what its like to be unemployed and poor in Auckland particularly. No idea.

    • @Lara thank you so much for always commenting on my blogs with such thoughful responses that hold so much compassion, intelligence and understanding. I do not always respond to your posts (if you don’t already write in a public domain you really really need to start) but i often read them and you keep my faith in humanity a live.

  2. Kia Ora Chloe

    Standing ovation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes this beautiful country is indeed in a mess, its beauty seriously marred by the ugliness of many of those in charge, and never more so than now given what we know and how little excuse they have for their ignorant domineering.

    Your passionate, incisive articles will be missed, the few that still appear should be all the more prized.

    At last, work that will enable you to contribute to something like your full capacity – something like a just reward for all that preparatory effort. Sounds like it has the potential to make a significant contribution towards the vital work of giving young people voice and direction to fix and rebeautify this mess – a task with unlimited potential and I’m sure you will give it your all.

    ‘From a mess of tailings, gold is mined’.

    Go out there and shine!

    • Kia ora George

      thank you for your kind words, as I said at the end of this post I have greatly appreciated (understatement) peopls support in what I have to say and I am still blow away that people even read my blogs – it is so humbling.

      You said:

      “At last, work that will enable you to contribute to something like your full capacity – something like a just reward for all that preparatory effort. Sounds like it has the potential to make a significant contribution towards the vital work of giving young people voice and direction to fix and rebeautify this mess – a task with unlimited potential and I’m sure you will give it your all.”

      I always said if I ever get to a position of power where I could help build platforms for people to stand on and have a piblic voice, I would do anything and everything in my power to take everyone with me. We need journalism from the bottom up not the top down. X)

  3. John xKeyscore is comfortable with homelessness.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with people starving.

    JohnxKEYscore is comfortable with people shivering in mouldy damp homes.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with zero hour conracts.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with low wages that dont keep up with inflation.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with young people being edged out of the first home market.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable about young people getting qualifications but there being no jobs.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with overcrowding and people living in cars.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with using the SIS in a partisan way.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with withholding the truth about govt surveillance.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable with withholding the truth about the TTPA and TISA.

    John xKEYscore is comfortable about dragging us into a middle eastern war.

    Tell me….is there anything good AT ALL that this fraudulent ‘ prime minister ‘ endorses???…..

    Or is it all about being comfortable with things that are , in fact , ….to the detriment of the people of this country ,- and to the advantage of people in other countrys – that and in accordance with George Bush seniors ‘ thousand points of light New World Order ‘ ?

      • I’m sure the source of his ‘ comfortableness ‘ is the opulent sofa’s in his mansion in Hawaii,…next door to Obama’s one.

        Where the neo liberal thug ideology and the destructive poverty it caused in this country seems like a far away ‘ someone else’s problem ‘ for him.

    • I think this is a bit over the top. Here I christchurch there is virtually full employment. To say key is comfortable with people starving is a step to far. Disagree with his policies by all means but but bring a bit of reality into it.

      • And here is a simple barometer by which we can all understand – and is far more accurate than any economic forecast , GDP stats , graphs , export earnings , interest rates et al , ad infinitum.

        Just like a tramping party goes at the speed of its slowest members for safety’s sake , the REAL economic barometer is not measured by those who are already deemed ‘comfortable ‘ at all.

        It is measured by the plight of those doing the essential but ‘ menial ‘ lines of work. How are they housed , how are they clothing their children and feeding their families?

        How do they balance a budget after paying half their wages in rent? What hope have they of ‘ investing’ ‘ discretionary ‘ incomes? How do they afford to keep their aging car on the road? Are they warm in winter with an ability for Doctors fees when sickness strikes?

        The list goes on and on and on.

        THIS is the only TRUE BAROMETER and measure of the TRUE health of your society.

        THIS is the measure with which you gauge the EFFECTIVENESS of current fiscal policy.

        It is NOT the top strata’s of society you measure the wisdom , prudence and deft handling of an economy , – but in fact the exact OPPORSITE.

        And hence the measure of the quality of ANY society is measured by how well those on the lower economic rungs are coping – or not coping.

        THIS is why we measure countries by whether they are first world or third world – NOT by making a study of the wealthy and opulent of a country – but by measuring the plight of those at / near the bottom.

        And far as I can see- we dont scrape too far from the bottom at all.

        You wanted a dose of reality ? You just got it.

        If you want to take this argument of yours further, – I suggest you take it up with the latest OECD report , – along with all the other dozens of agencies who would suggest that the neo liberal economic policies under this govt are a miserable failure.

      • The full employment in Christchurch has got nothing to do with John Key. It is all “thanks” to the earthquake and insurance money. Without the devastation of the earthquake Christchurch would be in the same boat as the rest of the country.

        Having said that, when I go to city mission to donate food and being thanked again and again I know there is no such thing as full employment nor zero poverty. And there is help for the homeless, and people collecting dollar to dollar to fulfill a wish for Christmas present for children that go without; there are people struggling even though in general we have a nice little bubble of construction boom here.

    • No way that selfish, classless, ignoble, bastard is worthy of the title Prime Minister. Pry Minister will do nicely thank you

  4. @ Chloe .
    Congratulations to AUT for being smart enough to take you on .
    Good luck . “ Sharpen your pencils and show no fear . “ Said of Truman Capote once .

    I quote you here .
    “ Despite this, our government persists in telling us we just need to work harder – as if hard work was a magic trick for fixing a broken system. “

    An interesting few words that have deeper and wider meanings .
    Firstly , ‘ the system ‘ isn’t broken . It’s been hijacked by criminals . Amoral swindlers with a penchant for cruelty what’s more and the more they see us suffer , the more pleasure they get from that . And it would pay to dwell on that for a while . Let that thought sink in . Let the solemn awfulness of that sink in .

    Secondly , what then to do about that ? We have people who , through NO fault of their own , finding themselves bogged down in poverty suffering every ghastly symptom of that imaginable . Poor mental and physical health . Looking like shit , becoming hate filled and frustrated as they watch their lives ebb away yadda , yadda , yadda .

    But we know this .

    So , what to do about it ?

    Now , that’s a short sentence worthy of longer ponderings .

    What to do about it ?

    Parliament could be bombed , as that homeless pregnant teenager suggested . Individual politicians could be targeted , stalked and gunned down . There could be riots and violence generally . People could set fire to neighbourhoods , loot businesses , kill others in the streets .

    The problem with that however is that it fans the flames of the hatred that our politicians love to ignite . ( slater saying that he’s never happier than when he’s destroying the lives of others as jonky-stien , on his hands and knees kisses slaters fat , greasy arse . )

    There is , in my humble view , a better way of doing the job that needs to be done .

    We need to crowd – source a fighting fund to defeat jonky in court . We need to use that fund to engage a team of lawyers to take on the case . We need to engage a private detective agency to investigate the relationships between our politicians and big business to find out exactly how jonky made his millions , how it’s possible for those other few kiwis , like , but not exclusively , owen glenn , michael fay , david richwhite , alan gibbs to gather about them billions of dollars and yet our country , an agrarian economy is broke and failing on virtually every level , the very least of which is the poor quality of life for most of its citizens as we become global laughing stocks .

    Know your enemy . Then exploit their weaknesses to defeat them . Our enemy are those who lobby our politicians for their gain . Jonky is a rung in the ladder . He’s the enemy but he’s not the enemy at the top .
    And for the highest ranking enemy , the very worst thing they could experience ? Being exposed . Being dragged through the courts . Was that the thought that went through South Canterbury Finances Allen Hubbards brain milli-seconds before he crashed ?

    The time has come to act . The days of talking about the problem are over .
    All we have to do is figure out ‘ how to act ‘ .
    And I hate to dash hopes here but the answer to that doesn’t lie within conventional politics . No party can , much less will , act . Once on that six figure salary plus entitlements , the best intentions give way to survival to come out with as much as one can grab . It’s in-human nature after all .

    How about The Daily Blog Fighting Fund ? We already have the world watching on after the Dotcom / Greenwald / Assange / Snowden thing . A marketers dream come true surely ? We could aim for an international , multi million dollar fighting fund to sue our politicians for treason . For sedition . For criminal conduct . For embezzlement . For fraud . For terrorism . Get jonky-stien writhing in discomfort . Wipe that sneer of his ferret face . ( No disrespect to actual ferrets . )

    It would be so bloody easy to do . Create a trust fund , post a deposit account number and issue receipts . We could create an entirely new public owned corporation running in real-time to counter the tyranny of those private corporations who are the real enemy and who lobby the jonkies to do their bidding .

  5. You go girl! And, once fame and fortune have finally got a hold on you: Never lose your compassion and forget where you came from.

    • ha I don’t want fame or fortune I’d like a public platform big enough to fit all the people who want to have a voice, to stand on. Storytelling is a form of political testimony it is a powerful form of protest, especially in times of silence and eciet by those who hole the power. <3

  6. Your astute insights will be missed here, Chloe. The measure of your effectiveness can be judged by the response of certain reactionary right wingers whose myopic worldview was threatened by your “slice of life” reports.

    There is nothing as revealing and damning as confronting ideologically-cherished delusions with examples of real life.

    You provided that reality-check.

    As did the 16 year old girl’s story you reported to us;

    This young girl told me John Key does not give a fuck about her and while laughing and throwing her head back she acclaimed “let’s put bombs in the beehive”.

    And thus it begins…

    And thus, when the dispossessed hit back, the middle classes, living in comfort and warm homes; and over-weight, full bellies; with their umpteen tv channels showing crime porn, food porn, home improvement porn with young, nubile couples; will throw up their hands in horror and demand to know,

    How did it come to this?!

    And I will say, because you allowed it to happen, that’s how.

    • ‘because you allowed it to happen, that’s how.’ I don’t think is quite true, I feel its more of a case of ‘ you got sucked in and gleefully paid to make this happen’.

    • @Frank thank you so much for all your support, you have always given incredibly intelligent responses to my writing, and your own blogs are always on the money (ha pun intended?) and always cut through the static. Those who write on politics (aka jounralists lol) are meant to give a reality check and to keep governments in check but in the last ten years there has been a swing to the right in our media. Now it is about appeasing advertisers and pushing coporate agendas. Blogs like the Daily disrupt right wing narratives and offer a different view on Aotearoa and the world. Thank fuck for that.

    • It’s comments like that Frank that make one wish they could vote up more than once. The current system has to crash and burn, as it has throughout history when too many people are living in deprivation. I’m picking it will happen sooner rather than later. Incidentally, I was reading an article on “Stuff” about a family in need for Christmas and how the Salvation Army declined them for their assistance program. The “serves you right attitude” was appallingly prevalent in the comments section, it turns the stomach. I sometimes wonder if all opposing comments go unpublished.

  7. Bombing the National Party conference would be mote effective than the Beehive – that way many of the puppet masters would be eliminated. All tongue in cheek as I do not believe we are yet at thatched point but the possibility of violent protest is growing stronger.
    After many years working, initially as an accountant and latterly as an IT BA, I decided to broaden my knowledge and understanding by doing some non commercial Postgrad study, to my surprise I found that on trying to return to work my age and time out meant I was unable to get a job. My experience with WINZ was demeaning and my observation was that I was being treated better than many.
    I fully subscribe to the need for reward to be linked to merit and effort, indeed I believe that we should expect beneficiaries to contribute some labour to public work programs. However subsistence handouts, unaffordable housing and accommodation supplements’ that are actually indirect subsidies to landlords are a shameful indicators of the decline in NZ society from one of compassion to one where many are sacrificed on the alter of self aggrandisement.

  8. Congratulations Chloe!! Well done, I got tears in my eyes I’m so happy for you! Quest forth and keep up the great work.

  9. It’s austerity measures that NZ live under additionally this is nothing new when you’re aligned with the Americans, UK & the banking cartel especially when we as a country have horrendous amount of debt to external organisations like the Federal Reserve. NZ politicians have sold out long ago & it doesn’t matter whether it’s National or Labour governing, the outcome will always be the same liken to USA politics Democrats & Republicans to UK Labour or Conservatives, Liberal Democrats. Personally it makes me angry seeing poverty, homelessness, big corporations screwing the little person, the wars, & the lies these so called politicians peddle out however what’s worse is the sheeple of NZ who vote these bastards in & can’t see past their morning late’s walking around thinking their crap don’t stink. I have met a lot of kiwi’s who don’t vote adding that i don’t believe in politic’s or the system is corrupt & don’t want to be part of it but they’re the first to complain about their shit lives. Reading George Orwell’s 1984 & Animal Farm over the holidays to see how relevant his predictions are today maybe he is literally right in regards to NZ we are living in an Animal Farm.

  10. The tradition of Advocacy journalism is a good and strong one, now more than ever. Look at how any ex journos are now in real-politic organisations.

  11. Reading this blog made me think about life in the 1800, the poor just had to work harder to make a good living, at what you could ask, if you worked for the gentry you would not get a wage to live on for sure, the kids were sent to work at 12 or 14, just so there would be more money coming into the house.
    Today, the welfare system is treating the low wage earner and unemployed the same way. Staff in the offices usually have never had to survive on a benefit themselves, so there is no way they would ever know the difficulties people face on a day to day basis. None of us know when we could be in the same position, and have to deal with unsympathetic WINZ staff

    • It is true that there are some good and honest WINZ people who really do try.

      However it is equally true that due to high unemployment and fear of job loss themselves, of an overbearing , cynical and sadistically sycophantic bureaucracy , these good people are crushed ever tighter into a corner.

      The natural kindness of many of them gets destroyed by the mercenary survival instinct of self preservation. Some throw it to the backs of their minds,…yet others persist in a constant war of inner conscience.

      Just like cold war Russia….during the Stalin years…the tendency to cover up , watch your own butt , to not make waves….is strong downwards pressure.

      Your true enemies are the neo liberal thug element that have created these despicable conditions in the first place.

      THESE are the ones who have perverted this once great nation. Destroyed our once great and world leading egalitarianism. Set the common man and women against each other.

      These neo liberal thug elements are anathema to the egalitarianism that once characterized our nation.

      If you want to find the people responsible for doing this to you…..look not to the common folk….look to the neo liberal thugs who have wormed their way into power through guile and deceit.

      There you will find those deliberate and culpable in the guilt of this criminality and treason .

      • Yeah great conversation starter Chloe, well done. Pleased more people are saying they have had enough of Nat’s policies. If we sack the govt can we cancel their pensions to? It pisses me off that Roger Doug was an MP for ACT, got his superannuation and was already a millionaire, after selling out NZ for neo-liberal economics- Bah! There is no way they should ever have paid him that much, and others that milk the system. Hope u enjoy ur new job and give the students some things to think about and act on, ultimately to make our society more fairer, and our environment and resources looked after.

  12. All this stuff makes me livid ,to think Paula Bennet is so gleeful at her success at creating misery just to please John Key and get ahead herself while stepping on the people below.

  13. “The OCED recently released a landmark report showing that economies the world over are “being hamstrung by growing inequality ”

    Chloe you need to catch up. The ‘report’ you refer to is a single author working paper. The OECD have specifically issued a disclaimer about the report, and it is becoming widely discredited, particularly as it has erroneously found that differences in educational achievement and investment had no impact on economic growth.

    John Key has every reason to reject this paper. Denying inequality doesn’t need to be one of them.

    • The OECD have specifically issued a disclaimer about the report, and it is becoming widely discredited…


      Who issued the “disclaimer”?


      Let’s see this “disclaimer”, Nehemia…

      • The work is in the form of a Working Paper by one Frederico Cingano titled “Trends in income inequality and its impact on economic growth”.

        The paper can be accessed here http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/5jxrjncwxv6j.pdf?expires=1419096365&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=A72162A05BF71E6C26F916F47538139E, and includes the following disclaimer on page 2:

        “OECD Working Papers should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD or of its
        member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author(s).”

        I am of the view that the majority of left wing commentators who are attempting to utilise this ‘report’ have never even accessed the paper, let alone read it.

        • Nehemia – whooooaaaa there, sunshine!!

          Your comment,

          Nehemia Wall says:
          December 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm (Edit)

          …Chloe you need to catch up. The ‘report’ you refer to is a single author working paper. The OECD have specifically issued a disclaimer about the report, and it is becoming widely discredited

          – in no way equates with your explanation,

          “OECD Working Papers should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD or of its
          member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author(s).”

          You have made an assertion that you have not been able to back up.

          If that is your “evidence” that “the OECD have specifically issued a disclaimer about the report, and it is becoming widely discredited” – then that is a bald-faced lie.

          Chloe not only called it correctly, but you’ve been exposed for mis-representation.

          • You’re running Frank.

            The OECD have issued a disclaimer, as I claimed.

            I have cited and quoted it, as you requested. The ‘report’ is nothing more than a single author working paper with a fairly significant disclaimer.

            I’m surprised I have had to point this out, considering so many are making mention of it.

            • Nehemia, on December 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm, you stated,

              …The ‘report’ you refer to is a single author working paper. The OECD have SPECIFICALLY* issued a disclaimer about the report…

              The OECD “disclaimer states,

              OECD Working PAPERS* should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD or of its
              member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author(s).”

              Note the term you used: “Specifically”.

              Note the term the OECD statement said: “Papers”.

              The OECD statement referred to plural – papers. It was a generic disclaimer and not “specific” as you claimed.

              If you’re going to quote someone or an organisation, it behoves you to be honest about it. Otherwise you end up discrediting yourself.

              * My emphasis

            • Oh I wasnt referring to your comment, I was in fact pointing Chloe King towards the information and I hope she certainly goes ahead with reading it or better still gets the whole report to analyse it fully.

          • Surely you can come up with someone more credible than Wodnee ,…

            L00L …..Wodnee…the guy who didn’t see the hit on him coming from Rancidoil to dislodge him from the Act party.

            Well I guess there’s no honor among thieves, neo liberal troughers or pit vipers.

            Nope , guess you ‘ll just have to try a bit harder next time.

            L0L !!!!

        • Chloe my cite is above. And as Minnie has noted, Rodney Hide has eviscerated the ‘report’ in a recent NBR column. The work is gradually being taken to pieces.

          • Rodney Hide is a right wing politician. The OECD report criticises right wing economic dogma. Ergo?

            Of course, if you can show us why Hide is a “neutral”, “impartial” reviewer of this OECD report, feel free to share it with us.

            • Rodneys counter criticism of the paper has also provided us with a better insight regardless of whether he is impartial or neutral.

            • That’s just shooting the messenger, Frank. It would be more helpful if someone on the left could actually address the message.

          • Oh yes…lets all let our brains fall out all over the floor and listen to the ‘ wise ‘ counsel of what Wodnee has to say…..

            Tui billboard on its way , guys….

            • I will look at what Rodney Hide has to say, I read both right wing and left wing perspectives. However let us pretend just for a moment the OECD report turns out to be built on false information or just wrong. It still wouldn’t change the reality that Aotearoa has never been so unequal. You only have to talk to community workers and those on the frontlines such as mental health workers or women working at women’s refuge to know how desperate some peoples situations have gotten since National took power.

              The thing is as a political writer, a lot of my time is taken up simply going out on the streets and into communities to just talk with people. I believe storytelling is a radical form of political testimony. It can give shape to whole communities and it can connect us. There are thousands of people living in Aotearoa below the poverty line, they are hungry and our government is denying them the basics of life, like full bellies and a warm dry roof over their heads.

              We do not talk about love and compassion enough in politics. People deserve to feel loved by their government. they deserve to know their current shitty situation is not their fault, poverty is by design.

              There is plenty of wealth in Aotearoa, people can see it just not on their own pockets.

              John key keeps telling poor and the working poor to work harder. Mean while he is off to Hawaii for his holidays. One could almost say telling people to work harder is like telling people to eat cake, it doesn’t solve anything.

              • “It still wouldn’t change the reality that Aotearoa has never been so unequal.”

                If you are referring to income inequality, that statement is factually incorrect. Please refer Figure 1 at http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-social-indicators/Home/Standard%20of%20living/income-inequality.aspx.

                This clearly demonstrates that income equality in 2013 was lower than in 1994, 2000-2005, and 2011, 12.

                I agree that some people face desperate situations. Mis-stating the position, and failing to consider what the nation is actually already doing for people in need is not helpful.

                • If you are referring to income inequality, that statement is factually incorrect. Please refer Figure 1 at http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-social-indicators/Home/Standard%20of%20living/income-inequality.aspx.

                  This clearly demonstrates that income equality in 2013 was lower than in 1994, 2000-2005, and 2011, 12.

                  Are you still pushing your mis-representation of that graph, Nehemia?

                  The only time income inequality dropped significantly was 2004-08, when Working for Families redistributed some wealth. Post 2008, it rose again.

                  From 2010, After Housing costs appear to flat-line, whilst only Before Housing Costs appears to drop minutely and then flat-lines. If anything, the graph shows the impact on incomes, as housing become more unaffordable. If there is a minute drop – and if the data is accurate – this is most likely attributed to historically low interest rates implemented by the RBNZ.

                  However, drilling down into the info behind the graph you present, we find this, from the Key Findings;

                  7 From HES 2011 to HES 2013 the gains from the recovery were shared reasonably evenly across income deciles, but the negative impact of the recession from HES 2009 to HES 2011 was a little greater for lower income deciles (deciles 1 to 6) than for higher ones.

                  8 As a result, from HES 2009 to 2013 the net change in average incomes for each of the lower 5 deciles was close to zero, whereas there was around a 5% net gain for the top five deciles.

                  12 In New Zealand the top decile received 8.0 times the income of the bottom decile (after tax and transfers) in 2011. This is average for the OECD, a little lower than Canada and Australia (8.5).

                  Source: http://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/household-income-report/2014/key-findings.doc

                  Now, here’s the pertinent rebuttal to your “data”;

                  The data you refer to is the “Household Incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2013”, by Bryan Perry.

                  However, in July, 2014, Perry up-dated his earlier report when errors were detected and publicly revealed. As reported back in February 2014, Treasury had under-estimated the level of children living in poverty, as Bernard Hickey wrote on 28 February;

                  “Treasury and Statistics said in a joint statement they had double counted accommodation supplements in estimates of household disposable income between 2009 and 2012, which meant incomes were over-estimated by NZ$1.2 billion and the number of children in families earning less than 50% of the median income was under-estimated by 25,000.”

                  Source: http://www.hivenews.co.nz/articles/400-inequality-data-error-revealed

                  The Treasury statement acknowledging the errors can be found here: Reserve Bank: Media Statement – Data error prompts process improvements

                  So Perry’s initial report, and the graph, is flawed.

                  Curiously, another right-winger tried to pass of the same flawed data several months ago; the habitual liar and ACT propagandist, “Intrinsicvalue”.

                  • You are wrong Frank, on both counts.

                    1. The data I am citing is from the updated material…note the use of the header “Most recent data”, and the date on the data as July 2014.

                    2. My comments was “that income equality in 2013 was lower than in 1994, 2000-2005, and 2011, 12. ”

                    You can argue the why’s and wherefores all you like (I am on record as supporting WFF) but my comment is a factually correct interpretation of the updated data.

                    Also this is the second time you’ve mentioned battles with other posters. I’m not interested. I’m not trawling back to try to verify what you’re saying, I’m only interested in this discussion.

    • Whilst it grabs headlines the purported OECD report is not necessary to confirm that inequality inhibits growth.
      Firstly given the paymaster the OECD disclaimer is of no surprise.
      Secondly consider the following; Keynes famously said that the use of interest rates to stimulate growth in certain conditions is like pushing on a piece of string. The mirror / implication of this is that in severe downturns demand is a more effective growth stimulator. In reality most of the QE (printing of money) has been to bail out vested interests. If you then consider that where wealth is concentrated a smaller percentage of that wealth will be used in consumption and risk aversion will see the surplus applied to secure assets thus boosting realty and other low risk assets further inhibiting growth.
      The best one can say of the “Dear Leader” John key is that he may be a brilliant trader but as all who have worked in the industry know this requires tactical not strategic economic nonce. As for Bookkeeper English let the nom de plume do the talking.
      Personally I have come to the view that they are not just incompetent but are committed to an ideology that when stripped to its bare essentials rejects community and compassion and celebrates only the self.

  14. Talking about eating the rich, i was lucky enough to be given gift vouchers at a very nice cafe/restaurant not my usual neck of the woods. After my fourth time to the ‘flash’ area and cafe, i said to my husband OMG the customers in this place are totally grossing me out. He said i am glad you said it as he said he felt exactly the same. @ FRANK as you mentioned bloated full bellies, hideous over dressed label bashers, i actually felt sick watching these s-wankers. It dawned on me that these are the Nat voters who don’t give a shit about anything other than shovelling gourmet food into their mouths and talking loudly about their holiday’s in the Galapagos islands while constantly poking and prodding their phones. They have no idea that they are truly vulgar ugly trougher’s who think they are cool, but they wear a look of pure conceit that isn’t pretty. Christ i nearly ran out of there last time. Best of luck with your new work Chloe.

      • Well, Thats lovely, bloody hell commit me quick, frankie said it therefore it must be true.!!!. Sadly for you, Im not, Im just doing what you do to anybody who questions you, twisting it up to make it fit!!And I hope that doesnt incurr ScarletMods wrath either!!
        You know when I worked in newspapers journalists wrote factual and balanced articles, they didn’t just pick out what they saw as the relevant pieces that fit their own biases to try and dupe readers and attack and those readers were able to make up their own minds!
        I read reports now and decide to go looking for anything that may not be included because sure as eggs there will be plenty!

        • In other words you search to find aspects that will bolster your own ideology to give yourself some reassurance that you aren’t a self centered greedy little leech on the poor and others.

          And when you fail to find it – you , – like the MSM either keep quite or go into denial by manufacturing bogus claims to spew all over others.

          Yeah. you are barking mad , mate.

    • What ,..you mean like the pretentious fat boys wearing boat shoes driving round in their sports cars brigade?

      You know the ones…the spineless wonders with no personality who would stab their work colleagues in the back quite happily to curry favour with their boss?

      We’ve all met ’em – mortgaged to the hilt , rich on paper but broken arse poor in cash terms because the desire to conform with the guy next to them is so strong -even their political views are a bloody cliche’ …poor unhappy boat shoe wearers….

      If only they knew how to be a decent fuckin human being.

      Then they really would be wealthy.

        • Minnie, in all honestly a lot of what you are saying is really offensive, and sure I know I offend people but mostly it is right wingers, poverty deniers and Men’s Rights Activists that I upset, so I’m ok with this. You use language that shames poor people and you make fun of those in desperate situations. Maybe take a step back and have a look at how you speak about people who need compassion not your judgements.

          Maybe ask yourself why you hate poor and the working poor so much? (a large percentage of those standing in lines for food parcels do have jobs, they just work for poverty wages aka the minimum wage). You speak about these people, and yes they are people with real emotions and feelings, with hopes and dreams, like they are vermin, they aren’t. They live and breath just like you do. I’m sorry you feel like you have to put other people down to raise yourself up.

  15. These examples of callousness are pretty mild. Last time I was on a benefit I was having to make choices between food and bills as well. When I approached WINZ about it and asked for a food grant I was offered a grant of $15. I had eaten Maggie 2 Minute Noodles for so many weeks that the texture of it was beginning to make me gag.

    On another occasion when I had basically been unable to pay my power bills, WINZ paid two months’ worth of bills. But as I never had enough money to pay them myself, a couple of months later I was back, facing disconnection threats from the power company. WINZ refused to help me. They told me that they had paid the bill once and weren’t going to do it again. In the end I actually prostituted myself a few times to get them paid and, when I later broke down in tears about it in front of a case manager, I was told ‘crying isn’t very constructive’ and that I ‘needed a better attitude’, to which I responded quite rudely and was asked to leave the premises. What bothered me the most was the way they looked at me, with such disgust.

    I wrote a letter of complaint to Paula Bennett who sent me a response rife with empty assurances that WINZ was doing a good job and giving me the direct dial for the manager of the branch I was registered with. When I phoned the manager to speak to her and recounted the story she told me that my ‘personal life’ (meaning the fact that I had been forced to prostitute myself to pay the bills) was none of her concern and that it was inappropriate of me to have discussed that with a case manager in the first place. She told me that the reason I wasn’t finding work was because my standards were too high. I am university educated, with little work experience (six years of my adult life have been spent seeking work) but I’m hugely bright and could probably do most things if given a chance. However, at this point I brought up with her that she was making baseless assumptions, that in fact I had been applying for everything from warehouse positions stocking shelves to dish hand jobs in hotels and I wasn’t getting them. I indicated to her that my limited experience was probably less of a factor than my education, that I felt these employers considered me over-qualified where the higher end jobs considered me under-experienced. She told me ‘no, you’re not getting these jobs because you’re not good enough’.
    I told her to F off and hung up.

    I expect better from a case manager, but I certainly expect better of a branch manager – LET ALONE the Minister of Social Development.

    • Yep its the same all the time: You are either 1. too old, 2. too young, 3. over-qualified, 4. under-qualified, 5. too hard working (you make everyone else look bad), 6. too fat (especially for women), 7. you have the wrong attitude (aka not a yes-man).

      • How on earth can somebody be all of those things Mike the Lefty. Guess Auckland really is an impossible place to get a job!

        • The meaning of “either” and expression in the alternative escapes you does it Minnie ? No ? Well then you’d better read Mike The Lefty again, get it right, and apologise for your hair-trigger silliness.

          • Ohh, my bad then, though possible he/she has heard all those things applied to him/her at some time and could be speaking from personal experience!

            • Oh ….she was the young American…all night.

              ‘MY bad’….you’ve been watching too many Californian sitcom comedy’s to be taken seriously , mate.

              And that explains it all.

  16. With that great job you will be rich now too Chloe. You may even admit that the system you despise gave you the wherewithal or inspiration,even in part, to succeed. As for Paul, if there were 4 of them in a flat getting $1000 pw between them, then they would be doing ok, by which I mean warm,dry and fed. There are a lot of families living on that. Hopefully, Paul too will find his feet, get a job and enjoy some success.

      • Yeah I agree with @Frank on this one, I want be rich. Yes I will have a liveable wage (something all people deserve) but I want be living it up large. Ill be able to pay off my credit card, pay bills and maybe be able to move out of my mums if I can find a place cheaper than 200 a week. But I want be buying up Dior anytime soon. lol

        • Do you mean WON’T or WANT TO in the above, makes a big difference you know. There’s a double edged sword.! And an editor to boot!

          • Were you born as a member of the family Viperidae or do you just work on it with vulnerable victims you think you can beat ?

            Do you think you will catch something contagious from seeing people in poverty or do you just call the pest exterminators?

            Do you like drowning small kittens in a bucket or do you think all life needs is to just have a helping hand to put it out of its misery?

            And this is why – many of us call people of your type neo liberal thug trougher pigs.

            Each and every one of those words express the epitome of the thinking of your ilk without offending the public decency.

            Too bad you cant match the public decency in your words and actions, Pig.

          • Minnie you expose the mean, sad fool in you. Please stop it. Of course “won’t” and “want” make all the difference. But there was no doubt about what Chloe was saying. Half a decent being would have sorted out the spelling error and not felt the need to write such a stupid, pettifogging, offensive comment. Frank’s got it right about you. Mad !

            Anyway…….well done Chloe !

            • Editors do not proof, sub editors proof. You can teach spelling and grammar, you can’t teach good writing. Speaking of which I was a high school teacher, I got around my issues with spelling there so ill do it at the mag, to.

              I did not learn to read and write til I was 8 due to a pretty turbulent childhood, I have always struggled with spelling and grammar. I was hired by the magazine because they felt I would be committed to building platforms for students to have a voice on. I was hired because they know I will go after the establishment fearlessly and not back down, cos I’m for the people and I have no interest in corporate power or toeing the line.

              Minnie, you add nothing to the comments section. other than hate, malice and nastiness. I’m flagging you to the editor. Cos you do not open debate you close it down.

  17. Chloe, You deserve all the praise here, you have shown true compassion seldom seen today.

    I recall first seeing your writing deep compassion after several idiots were harshly criticising you two months ago on an issue you felt strong about.

    You wrote eloquently how deflated you felt when you was in the hard sharp end of that criticism as we all have been, and you rose your attractive head above the cloud of disappointment then so well I felt it through my heart.

    This is your strength and we will miss your human nature we all connect with, so please write us all when you can as we will love to hear of your heartfelt issues going forward from this day.

    Go strong and true, Chloe.

    • @CleanGreen thank you so much for your kind words, they are honestly deeply appreciated. Looking forward to the new year, hopefully I can sound a loud rally cry with Debate mag.

  18. You made it! Freedom from blighting tyranny!

    Well done, Chloe!

    And the more poor wretches you can inform about how The System works, the more people who receive their entitlements, the better.

    We’re all tax payers, dammit. Every single customer who pays the accursed GST is a tax payer. There’s no virtue in PAYE. Lest we forget…

  19. great article Chloe…..totally precise about this public service. thanks for acknowledging those whom are caught in this situation.

  20. I’m surprised that some right wing d…head hasn’t come up with the usual line that because the guy can afford a cellphone (to make the phone call mentioned) that he should be able to afford food. After all, cellphones are luxuries, right? Wrong, actually. If you are looking for work a cellphone is virtually essential, as many employers expect be to be able to contact you at any time and change your hours at will and if you don’t have a cellphone with you and be able to respond immediately you are likely to miss out on work, especially if you are a temp. Also if you buy a cheap cellphone and use a monthly plan it actually costs way less than a land-line. I know that is not what this article is really about but I thought I would bring this to the attention of anyone who feels they should tell this person about budgeting.
    The scariest thing about this whole article is that this is only one person in an uncounted underclass that has sprung up over the last eight years. There are many more out there who have no-one to tell their tales and no-one to advocate for them. To our establishment (the National government and the MSM) it is all a myth and their stock position is that if you are poor, it is your own fault. There is a special place in hell reserved for people like this: they will lose nothing of what’s coming for them by waiting.

    • Yep, shame on him for wearing clothes, he should be wearing “sack cloth”, some of the uncaring jerks out there would say.

      I have noticed a real “hardening” amongst so many people, who have little time now for others, unless they are on the same “level” as them, being income wise, education wise or “mentally”, meaning sharing their same disgusting, narrow minded, bigoted views.

  21. Wow! I started crying a few lines in, when you welled up. It was me in the picture, of belief even when you were being treated with utmost disrespect. The culture of WINZ in many respects is disgusting and foul, designed to strip you of your self esteem and make you feel like a leech. When you object to the behaviour you must suffer the consequences. Already you are down and out, and they push you even further DOwn. Denied entitlements, you then become a burden to others, families, social services, food banks. It must be hell of a lot worse for those with children. While trying to survive, one becomes creative in their human will to do so. As for smug Bennett? I’m truly at a loss for words.

    • They are public servants you are the public! You; master, they; servants! You are a beneficiary which is the owner of a trust, tell them you are also the executor of the trust they are the trustee of and you give the orders! Ask them for the activity statements for your trust and it’s current worth! And go from there. Like what is the trust purpose and functions! Cest qui vie.

  22. It makes me so sad to live in a country with such poverty. We are supposed to be a loving inclusive great place to live and we let out most vulnerable members of society starve.

    Congratulations on your new job!

  23. This is a regular occurrence. Work and Income NZ case managers have a disastrous reputation for being on such a powertrip. Myself and my partner have experienced this on a visceral scale. Recently my partner and I tried to re-settle back into rotorua. They practically expected us to live on the streets. We had everything ready for us to move into a flat, they turned us away on the bond and instead gave us a food grant and expected us to stay on the streets. We tried boarding with people previously and backpackers are very expensive. We went back again and tried again and they turned us away and my partner and I had to turn to her family to get us off the street. And this is where work and income are now just getting worse and worse with hindering everyones entitlements because these cantankerous case managers missed their palates appointment. They need to take their clients situations deeply into consideration. But obviously they don’t. <>

  24. Only a day or two ago I heard on some radio news program, that the Auckland City Mission was running out of funds for food parcels and Christmas gifts for the poor. They got far less in donations this year than last year. So unless something major happens in the coming two to three days, many will go without this Christmas.

    While there are still many willing to help and donate, and to offer other support to those in need, it seems that in ever so larger Auckland, compassion is becoming less common and practiced now.

    More and more are simply only caring about “number one”, and forgetting, or even choosing to ignore, those that are the least fortunate amongst us.

    It appalls me every year, when we get TV and other media present us the “feeding of the poor” on Christmas Day, with ever growing numbers, and doing so, as if all is well, as there are so many volunteers helping out.

    All this emotive claptrap we get, is not changing the system, is not addressing the real causes and issues, which are systemic. But why would I lament this, we know the MSM media are in on maintaining the status quo as it is. They do NOT want change, they rather keep on reporting stuff in marginal fashion, and otherwise ignore the lot of those having to go to WINZ for food grants, for benefits to pay the very basics, that are not even enough to survive on any decent ways.

    Shame on this country, for what it has become!

  25. My daughter was on a land based training course through WINZ. She had to miss three days of the course due to her young daughter breaking her arm and having doctors and hospital appointments. They removed her from the course because she ‘wasn’t committed’ enough and are now cutting her benefit by 50% even though she’s been accepted into a UCOL course starting next year in Feb. My girl will have $80 a week to try and feed her and her child, pay power etc. All this despite her having been up to date with her coursework and attending all other days. All this despite ringing WINZ and explaining and being told not to worry last week and yet getting a letter still saying they’ll cut her money. She’s ringing them today and if they don’t reverse this I’m going to start raising merry hell. First stop, Human Rights Commission.

    • Cwenmaria, The letter will be one of the thousands of anti-human, computer generated letters that WINZ send out each day to torment the poor and keep them on edge. If they dare try cutting your daughter’s benefit, let us know where the picket line will be, or better yet publish more details so we can complaint bomb them. It’s amazing how quickly they pull their head in when it directly effects their workload. Pestering them until they are sick of you and want you to go away is the only way to deal with them effectively, in my experience. If you get no joy with one person, speak to another and another, (preferably going over the head of each person). Know your rights, ( The best interest of your grandchild is paramount, legally. ) Try not to look at it as begging, (that’s what they want you to think), it isn’t, it’s standing your ground. You must be very proud of your daughter! She is doing a course, AND putting her child first.

  26. I have been with WINZ. I struggled so much to make ends meet too. When I moved into my flat, I had a fully time job. Not long after, I was let go. My rent while there was $200pw, not including expenses. Asking for help from WINZ, they agreed to help me but would give me only $250. With that amount, i was expected to pay rent, expenses, food and somehow have enough left over to make it to their numerous appointments where they ask you the same questions repeatedly. Yes I’m job hunting. No I haven’t gone door to door with my C.V. why? Because I can’t afford to leave the house!
    I have been looked down upon as soon as I mention WINZ. I’m expected to be an alcoholic and drug addict. I’m supposed to be incredibly lazy and relying on WINZ because I apparently can’t be stuffed getting off my butt to look for a job when in reality, my inbox was always full of rejected job applications because I lacked the necessary experience or skills.

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