Period poverty should be the beginning of a wider debate


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says tackling period poverty is a ‘personal priority’ for her

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed that tackling period poverty is a “personal priority” for her, as the Government promises to address the issue before next year’s budget.

This comes as a petition calling on the Government to provide sanitary products for all students, which gathered more than 3000 signatures, was presented to Woman’s Minister Julie Anne Genter this morning.

Speaking at an event, Genter said the issue of period poverty was a priority for the Government and the Prime Minister.

Personal Agency is an important value in an egalitarian society like ours. The Treaty speaks of protecting Tino rangatiratanga and this self agency extends to all.

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To not be able to engage in society because you don’t have any period products is unacceptable.

General taxation needs to be diverted to ensure these products are free and available at any Food Bank and Family Planning facility immediately, but it also should be the beginning if a wider debate about well being and agency.

We know poverty robs many of well being and agency and the State should make urgent policy that empowers and enables through market signals.

GST should be stripped from fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a list of products which are considered essential for life.

Sustainable toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, condoms and period products should all be included in this basket.

Everyone needs to be clean, go to the toilet and eat fresh fruit and vegetables – why not make peoples who live pay week to pay week lives slightly less expensive by allowing for a basket of essentials to be GST exempt.

The Government is there to shape and regulate the market for public good, this is a way to reshape it and make peoples lives a little easier.



  1. Sabotage from within or just plain stupidity to concentrate on this?

    Since the subject is taboo with many cultures, is it really that culturally sensitive one to lead with, as well as most people facing it, probably don’t vote as they are homeless, indifferent to politics or keeping off the electoral role to escape creditors!

    Well, I didn’t get a house, but Labour did give me a tampon!

    Seriously Labour need to stop having that recreational weed session with the Greens and check people’s CV’s in their marketing (any sign of a subscription to Spinoff, Generation Zero, Absinthe in the drinks cabinet or an AUT degree) – stare well clear!

    • Well I would argue that it is NOT taboo to price certain products in a way that gets poor people back into work or training a lttile quicker. I could agree that it is a marginal tax reform but a stupid policy? Well kiwi build failing to live up to its name is a little stupid but tax reform is not that.

  2. Well said, Martyn. Yep, these products should be provided free; limiting it to schools is pointless when girls will be grabbing them for mum and aunty too.

    But ‘period poverty’ is a misnomer which enables govt to avoid the real issue, which is poverty.

    There is no such thing as ‘period poverty’ or ‘shoe poverty’ or ‘coat poverty’ or ‘food’ poverty. When families, sometimes on two or more incomes, cannot afford to buy essentials, then that is poverty.

    PM Ardern and Julie Ann Genter pontificating about addressing ‘period poverty’ sound good, but piously isolating issues and addressing them piecemeal, deflects from the fact that this is a low wage economy; many families work well but, unlike their employers, they struggle to thrive, and govt provision of free tampons etc, once again actually subsidizes the rich employers and money controllers, and helps them stave off having to pay decent wages to workers.

    The issue isn’t about getting houses or cars to live in, it is about basic necessities, that’s the big picture.

    To anyone who tries to say, as I believe Key did once – that NZ’s poverty isn’t like Delhi, I say, it’s still not good enough, and that that’s a pretty obscene argument.

  3. Perhaps we can divert the money we give to billionaire film makers and Chinese Government propaganda arms in the form of film subsidies.

  4. I often see this call for GST to be taken off certain goods but have those people considered the extra cost this places on all businesses. I helped my son run his business in Australia for a short time . Ever docket for ever purchase had to be kept and processed by his accountant to short out the GST free items. Needless to say his accountancy bill was enormous

  5. Its not only Woman that are bleeding this time around and to save a few quid by making out thats its so

    looks to me to be very advantageous virtue signaling .and I would suggest very patronising towards woman .

    better solved by getting on and lifting us all out of poverty .

  6. Cripes, is this what so-called “left wing” governments are reduced to in 2019? Sorry, we’re not going to roll back user-pays, or restore genuinely free education, or fund the health system properly, or reform the electricity sector so oldies and the poor can actually afford to pay their power bills. But we’re getting more girls to play sport! And we’re banishing “period poverty”! Of all the things we could losing sleep about, what a strange one to fixate on – I mean you can a pack of 16 tampons for $4.50 at the Warehouse This is tawdry politics from Julie Anne Gender, but then by now I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    • chruskl – We just ape the things that others do – period poverty is currently an issue in the UK – an easy band wagon issue to jump on. Analysis of Wgtn’s ex-mayor failing to get re-elected noted him doing the good little photo op stuff like painting a rainbow pedestrian crossing – to show that Wgtn’s as nutty as Auckland on gender issues- while the bus and transport system descends to third-world, and developers get given the go-ahead to despoil landscape with soviet-style accommodation while gloriously ignoring the local infrastructure. When Ardern talked “period poverdy” too, I had to pinch myself to see if I am real.

      Real issues are too hard, but politicians are adept at plucking dandelion heads floating by on a passing wind, to showlight themselves.

      They no longer have the smarts to provide a good public health service. The tragic thing here is that there was a time our public health system led the world, but the pollies don’t care, they do ok with health insurance and work schemes.

      The main thing is that we lead the world in bloody rugby – but that could be changing too. Leading the world in abusing and killing infants is poor people stuff – the poor are disgusting and that’s their life style choice, and battered women probably ask for it; the cold old will soon be dead anyway.

      The social indicators are not good and are inexcusable – how many politicians would now have the guts to address people on a soap box on a street corner ? Hmm ? Without a team of pr people ? Gotta laugh.

      • +1 Snow White, agree with what you say and didn’t realise it was as lazy as piggy backing off a UK issue! How pathetic is that!

        Jacinda won people over when she was herself and authentic and her angry and unexpected retort to Mark Richardson prior to last election put new hope into Labour becoming an authentic party again not just a lazy, neoliberal one, echoing marketing campaigns and lazy and marketing filled drivel electioneering !

        Your other comments about Wellington issues are spot on!

        All is not lost in NZ yet for health we really still have an incredible service for very sick people, (not so much our waiting lists) but people have to fight for it!

        • So I think New Zealand would be a better place to live if woman had the choice to live comfortably. I don’t want to be completely spastic about the figures but there are clear price differences between male and feminine products. It is completely immoral that a woman’s body could be used with out her consent for profit which is synonymous with slavery. Could you imagine a slave owner going oh you can’t have soap because you don’t own a shower? So we are obligated to help woman in that situation and I would argue that that obligation should be carried over. So we are obligated to free the girl from slavery whether that be free from God, from the owner, free from nature or for profit.

  7. saveNZ – I can’t lay my hands on OU’s latest grad magazine which has a good article by Prof David Skegg about the deteriorated public health system; basically he attributes much to lack of leadership in the health dept, which is nicer than my own libellous views about some people there. However, yes, we are still a very good country to be in for any serious health problems – and better, ironically in the public hospital system for major stuff and emergencies, than in private. I hope I can find his analysis – I’m a bit junked up.

    There are still too many horror stories eg in maternity, where once again we really did used to lead the world, but which seems to have gone downhill since it became politicised between midwives and the medical profession, and so many good medical professionals opting out – or hounded out. I think I’ve returned my biography of Truby King to the Sallies, and he was a bit sexist, but he was also largely responsible for our once outstandingly good infant mortality rates. But as you’ll know there are many variables – Mums tossed out the same day before feeding and sleeping are established, while folk murmer about women crouching to deliver babies in rice paddies then returning to work – forgetting that so many infants, and mothers snuffed it.

    If the Labour Party’s embracing of neoliberalism is due to laziness, then there may be some hope for them – political conviction is much more of a menace – indolence may respond to treatment. I have given up on the Greens since they blamed white NZ for the Mosque massacres, suggested that pigment-lacking chappies delete themselves, and now think that life was a breeze for hard-working boomers. Sod them.

    • @Snowwhite I’d love to read the link by Prof David Skegg if you can find it.

      Yes agree maternity in NZ is terrible – in Auckland you are turfed out after 4 hours for a natural birth. So the poor mites get a car journey within hours of birth and Mum has to be on the move amongst everything else straight after giving birth – wonder how much that helps our bad child abuse/post natal depression statistics especially if they are going to a home that is substandard and with no food in it and they can’t afford the power.

      30 years ago they had Nationals woman hospital in Auckland where you stayed for 7 days to learn how to feed your child and have help establishing routines. So you had bed and meals provided for a week to 100% bond with baby.

      The government closed it down and took to the free market maternity model. It’s a bad model to save money.

      Hospitals still have decent care for absolute emergency care if you get to hospital with a serious condition. It’s actually getting through the process to be admitted that seems to have all the issues. That’s one of the reasons I’m particularly up in arms about the migrant parents coming into NZ as the people who need the most care get it first which is the older folks and the most ill, but if you are about to be ill and waiting for treatment you are bumped off waiting for an operation and bed so that’s thousands of people bumped off the lists to cater for people who never lived here, likewise so many migrants on temp visas having babies in NZ and overwhelming our maternity system while the people who lived here all their lives and their newborns get terrible care! It’s just not fair.

      And we use to lead with prevention of illness, now with massive and preventable demands – its ambulance at bottom of cliff stuff.

      • hospitals have decent care for some emergancy stuff like heart attacks

        because there is loads of money to be made from it by doing it that way , millions

        not a lot of money to be made from preventive care and any way the surgeons have got to cut a little slack to their over all masters the drug companies .

        once you put a profit margin on anything it becomes some thing else.other than what it is . and once youve done that that profit margin becomes the prime concern not the person . when push comes to shove its all about the money .

        and dont go seeing older folk as getting preferment in the waiting lines .

        I am an older folk and trust me its not like that . truth is us older folks is getting close to popping off this mortal coil and the accountants running the hospital shows anrnt to hot on spending money / wasting it on some body who has only a few more years to live .
        Times before I was an alliance man loved Jim Anderton and the things he said .

        now he reckoned it would only take some thing like only 20 cents in the dollar more. {i could be wrong with that amount but it wasnt very much }to pay for all the things we are scrapping for now , health , education, housing , university , the basics of life . probably only take that now . wouldnt you say ?


        • I can only speak for my experiences but I was pleasantly astonished when I was admitted to hospital with a serious condition needing multiple surgeries.

          The doctors and staff were amazing, incredible care and absolutely no cheery picking, aka an elderly women was treated with incredible care next to me who was in hospital for months at a time. They treated everyone equally regardless of age or race or any other factor, which is what care in NZ should be like.

          The people who needed the longest stays and the most care were elderly and I think those already living in NZ should be have the priority including our elderly but also not bumping off the workers who can’t get through the waiting times, and the governments bizarre immigration hand outs to get more health care demand coming to NZ , to gain votes or donations or help the low wage employers of NZ who can’t attract anyone to work for them.

          The biggest people needing health care those in the last 3 years or life and the first 3 years and those are exactly the groups the government seems to be most interested in attracting here, aka aged migrants and people having babies in NZ!

          Health care seems to depend on which hospital, the staff and how you are admitted does play a factor, as family members at different hospitals around Auckland have had seriously poor care, mostly related to failure of being admitted and attended to correctly, poor maternity and strokes.

          Saying that I was at Starship once and one person turned up with their child having a tiny cut on their toe, which could have been attended to at home or by a private provider! There was hours long wait on a public holiday!

  8. saveNZ Firstly, a hint. I have a naughty elderly neighbour who gets herself admitted to hospital directly by calling an ambulance – then they have to admit you, if you come in by ambulance. She does have abdominal issues, and has had one heart attack, but the last time that she went in – I was with her after she called the ambulance for “pain”, when she was bent over a table, on a hot day massively stressing out about trying to fill in her NZ Super forms, and I think that’s what the pain was.

    My GP’s nurse said that most people find it very stressful processing WINZ forms, and then WINZ lose them, or send out a letter saying “You haven’t posted”, rather than “We haven’t received ” your form. Winston Peters doesn’t know the half of it.

    David Skegg’s article was hard copy, in their magazine, which I was sure I had kept, but couldn’t find when I looked earlier today. I’ll search again. The main thing I remembered, and his main point, was lack of leadership in the Health Dept, which tallies with my previous belief of that dept as the repository for second-rate medicos. And that stands to reason – but I don’t want to elaborate.

    I did follow up one Wgtn Hosp issue successfully with a previous Min of Health, and had two processes changed as a result; my GP was ecstatic about it, but I can’t elaborate on that, in case I end up in their clutches again.

    It is the single mothers going home hours after delivery, especially first time mothers, that I think we are totally irresponsible about. All our babies are toanga, and very vulnerable, but they seem to no longer have
    any effective advocacy.

    I’d like to think that I’m wrong here, but Plunket seems to have lost its clout- and a previous govt tried to pull their funding – and with family doctors largely hounded out of routine maternity work, there is no-one on the babies’ side apart from midwives, and whether they have cohesion or power isn’t clear.

    Regardless of immigrants, the lack of funding is disgraceful if we are to have a public health system – which I certainly don’t think Bill English wanted – he would have privatised hedgerows and birds’ nests if he could have -and Labour need to bite the bullet and agree that we have, and need a public health service, and therefore it must be properly funded. They need courage for that.

    There has been some privatisation by stealth here, but the only one I can attest to is the flogging off of the previously good Quit Line to a PHO group. Currently in the UK there is concern, dismissed as rumour, that the NHS is going to be privatised and sold to an American business group. Anything can happen, but with National out, there was a time I’d have assumed Labour would better represent the people’s interests.

    Some immigrants are good, and valuable. I think your concern here is lack of policy, and lack of cohesion with work place needs, and the general feeling of people like me that many were encouraged to come here to provide cheap labour and keep wages down, while again, ls English dismissed young NZ males as druggies. That was all dumb opportunistic politicking, and bad behaviour from Bill when our male suicide rates are so tragically high, and ls English does the good Catholic boy bit. I had thought of writing to the Pope about him- I can’t remember quite what for, but I’d have done it well.

  9. It is completely irresponsible for the government to be encouraging the 300,000 temp workers and students coming per YEAR to have kids here as part of their studies/temp job… or bring new kids and spouses over… just like the arranged marriages… so again adding more kids and spouses to the mix in NZ when we have worse and worse care for locals who paid taxes all their lives!

    They need to actually have the midwives, obstetricians and enough buildings to give birth in and providers to staff them BEFORE they add more and more children onto the services via lazy immigration policy! It aint rocket science!

    Also relying on migrant workers to fix NZ’s issues that stem from Rogernomics and massive student debt, lower wages in NZ and turning domestic students away from tertiary study of a range of courses that are not STEM in particular social courses, not being able to work out supply and demand for services and stop demand when they do not have the supply available, is where the biggest crisis is!

    ‘I felt so alone’: First-time mum’s harrowing Hutt Hospital maternity experience

    Expectant mums urged to lock in a midwife the minute they find out they’re pregnant

    ‘Shocking’ maternity crisis: Mum gives birth on midwife’s office floor

    Midwifery in ‘crisis’ with pregnant women unable to find lead maternity carers

    Maternity crisis deepens as Q’town hospital goes unstaffed

    “Retention rates for midwives used to be 15 years and it is now sitting at about six years, Ms Gilliland said. Incidents of stress and burnout among midwives were greater than any other profession.”

  10. +1 Snow White ”

    “I think your concern here is lack of policy, and lack of cohesion with work place needs, and the general feeling of people like me that many were encouraged to come here to provide cheap labour and keep wages down, while again, ls English dismissed young NZ males as druggies”.

    exactly that is a big part of my concern about our immigration policies, Snow White. And I repeatedly say, that it is not the migrants fault, most of them are coming here often with a lot of money changing hands before hand, due to NZ governments slack, woke filled, policy control.

    Government policy on immigration reflects Rogernomics, that the markets will provide social provisioning well… it doesn’t because it wants profits!

    So now whenever there is a crisis the first line to stop it from the neoliberals in charge of the country, is that they will import someone in from overseas to do it! Well we have been doing that for a decade now, and how is that working for us to stem real shortages, nope, but plenty of thirsty Liquors stores and Meth around!!

    My view that our current crisis of everything is just as planned by neoliberals, aka prices of goods and services are stratospheric over the last 10 years, work is poor and shoddy and time consuming to get anything done, work is full of errors, wages are lower while prices are higher, productivity is lower, mental health and suicides and murder rates are up, health care spend per person is going down, and less domestic adults engaging in tertiary study now!

    Looks like another unfortunately experiment to me that the government is still promoting!

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