Are we really sad KidsCan is getting dumped? Really?


KidsCan never sat well with me.

A private charity that raises huge money to do the things the Government should really be providing? I’ve always seen KidsCan as a symptom of broken social policy rather than the solution to child poverty.

After the ‘Feed the Kids Bill’ was killed off, KidsCan was constantly trumpeted as the way we could all pretend we’d done something meaningful on child poverty, so them not gaining any new funding sounds like the first step in resetting the obligations and responsibilities of the State.

It wasn’t just an ideological issue with KidsCan that was troubling, the culture within KidsCan was also problematic. A vicious staffing dispute in 2015 revealed...

Former operations and programmes manager Clive Young, now 63, says events at the charity before he was made redundant were not normal. He says he and others at the charity had concerns about management and spending – issues which were both raised at the trial. “You’re a charity,” he says. “You’re using donated and government money. Some of the things we saw didn’t sit well and so we questioned it.”

Some of the concerns were spending decisions. As an example, Mr Young points to the use of Corporate Cabs. It’s not the cheapest taxi option but it was the charity’s chosen mode of transport. He criticises travel bookings which saw cheaper airfares missed because of poor planning. Concerns were not only how money was spent, but what it was spent on.

There was concern about efforts to avoid public criticism over the costs of running the charity. KidsCan had suffered such criticism for its Big Night In telethon where it was claimed 86 cents in every dollar donated went on administration. The sensitivity is such in the charity sector that Mrs Chapman said in a recent interview: “I am proud to say that for every dollar spent in the last three years, 80 cents or more has gone directly into our programmes for children.”

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Mr Young says during his time at KidsCan there was a “reallocation” of budgets which improved the appearance of administration spending. For example, he says his “programmes” budget partly carried the cost of $90-an-hour marketing and fundraising general manager Jan Clark. “Freight, stock – that’s a programme cost but not consultants.”

…long champagne lunches on the Waterfront and parties with taxi’s home to Albany for everyone seems to be at odds with the grim reality of child poverty.

KidsCan has been lauded because it stepped in when the Government refused to do anything meaningful and that was acceptable to the majority of NZers who argue that free lunches or shoes or raincoats from the State will let parents off the hook.

It’s time the State stood up and took on these obligations, relying on a Charity that has some problematic culture issues doesn’t seem like a solution.


  1. yeah but …yeah. Bomber. I sponsored the lunch programme for 2 children for years BECAUSE i worked in a school and I saw the difference it made. Otherwise teachers would have been forking out for a lunch program or the BOT would be wasting valuable time raising funds for food when they have more important educational programs to fundraise for like school camps. Not ideal sure but it was better than nothing.

    • Kids can was always an interim programme. Feeding kids via charity is never meant to last this long. Rationing KidsCan style is actually communism. So we pay into nutritional programmes. If you’re going to do that then do it properly or pay workers a living wage.

  2. Agree with you Martyn – private charities do not sit well with me. I don’t like KidsCan and would prefer to donate directly to organisations like City Mission because to me they look like they give EVERYTHING to the people who need it.

    KidCans seems to make poverty glamorous. For those that support this approach, what happens to the kids if the charity does not raise enough money, directors misuse the money etc. The problem still exists for the kids so it’s better spend DIRECTLY on the kids via the schools through government like lunches in schools for all.

    When their government funding gets cut they rush around guilting the government to give them more money and keep the funding going. Again even if their fees are 20%, it’s still a chunk of government social spending that does not go to the needy.

    You’d be better to have a group of grandma volunteers at every school receiving the money and distributing food and clothes to the poorer kids.

    Also I question what defines poverty aka not having a raincoat for example. Again it’s a western standard derived from some middle class liberals or neoliberal that think consumer goods can solve poverty.

    Indigenous people used to survive without raincoats and taking people’s land and now Kiwis ability to earn enough by lowering wages while increasing basic costs like power and water and then thinking a donated raincoat will pull them out of poverty is the type of screwy thinking that is so out of touch with basic human psychology and common sense.

    I’m also concerned about the amount of charities and the scams when private companies raise money using charity logos and then only give a small percentage to charity has take it’s toll. I give less than I used to to street raisers because of that and feel sorry for the well run charities that DON’T spend money on marketing and spend it on the needy who actually are the losers in the glossy charity donations stakes.

    Anyone or thing can make themselves a charity. Charities are the new way businesses control discourse and take more money from ordinary citizens.

    From Disney asking employees to donate to a charity that lobby’s for TPPA, to Red Cross in the US under corporate management that raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built 6 homes

    Like groups like Gen Zero, Spinoff and so forth like modern charities are just a new way for corporates to pretend that there is free media and everyone has a voice and social problems like poverty are being solved but behind the scenes money talks and they are being used to shape a society that is not equal and not democratic and not run by a democratically elected government.

  3. Garrner on AM yesterday gave Tracey Martin a hard time, unnecessarily so and once she was gone, called her ‘disingenuous’ – a cowardly thing to do, seemingly because she had done as much homework as time had allowed and quoted some figures about Kidscan.

    I’ve since had a look at their latest annual report on the Charities Services website and they have reserves of cash of more than $4 million. That’s a lot for a charity that size! And they’re squealing about ><$300,000 the government may take from them in June next year?

    They record $1.407 million income from government in that report…. Added to your comments above, Bomber, it all smells just a tad fishy to me…..

    As for Garner (and his Right-wing mate 'Rigger') they have sloshed andf slashed into the new government every day with the smart-arse comments and unsubstantiated claims. I guess they won't be wearing Christmas red ties tomorrow for their last hurrah – it'll be dull and deadly blue for them. How very appropriate.

  4. I agree. It simply is the role of government to deal with child poverty. Charities are a bandaid only (see foodbanks!) and keeping a sticking plaster on a seeping wound will inevitably result in the problem getting worse.

    Kidscan may’ve been a temporary fix, but the problem requires the full intervention of the State to succeed.

  5. Oh no, we cannot have people empowered to make a living from their income, being benefits or wages, no we must make the poor beg, so they know their place, beg and rely on alms giving.

    FFS, what a screwed up society, where this is even considered, what a lost and corrupt society this has become.

  6. We are at present treated with a few carrots by the new government, what goes on behind the scenes is deals with Fletcher Residential and Ockham Holdings, and other corporates, to establish PPPs to build and deliver on what the Labour led government has announced during the election campaign.

    We are going to face another major betrayal by a new government, calling socialist kind of calls and shots, but going into bed with private enterprises, to build and deliver the infrastructure that is needed. That will be by way of PPPS.

    I am so disillusioned, angry and ready to do almost anything, to fight this endless BS, but that is what you will all get, decorated in politically nice language that means not what it says.

  7. Any charity that is necessary in New Zealand to protect the stomachs and welfare of children is a feckin disgrace on both us and the national govt that it gained such notoriety and acceptance. Key and Julia the ceo were friends; that tells me so much about the cynical use of children for business profit – Sanitarium is a charity; no more needs to be said about the greed inherent in that.
    I cannot believe any Kiwi could think a Kid’s charity for New Zealand Kids was a mark of a progressive and caring government. Unbelievable on so many levels.

  8. As a retired old person I am keeping a watching brief. If this crowd slip back to their old ways I am prepared to take direct action. People some times require a hand up how ever those receiving the support have to use it as a hand up and not a hand out. Just for the record I have been a receiver in the days before we changed the country. I had pressure on me from some to stay as I was as I was getting government support and some thought I was crazy trying to dig my way out. I was very grateful for the hand up by those in the government of the day.

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