How much longer can New Zealand afford to carry the rich?


The Salvation Army released its State of the Nation 2023 report – Nga Rourou Whakaiti this week. It’s a depressing document which tells the story of a rich country which has chosen economic policies which enrich the superwealthy at the expense of those on the lowest incomes – much the same as Victorian England.

The poor are held responsible for their situation of course – blaming the victims is how the middle class justify their own comfortable lifestyles while they vote against any transformative change to give everyone a fair go.

It’s full of graphs and descriptions of what poverty looks like in a land of plenty.

t’s sad when any small blip in a graph is acknowledged as a positive sign – as in the small drop in the number of people on the state house waiting list. Under Labour the number went from just over 5,000 when the Ardern government came to power to over 25,000 last year. The small blip is not because more people are getting into state houses – the net number of state houses has increased by a paltry 1100 per year under Labour – but because they are being “managed off the list” by MSD or just giving up. This was described to me by a former housing minister as “working with people to identify their actual housing needs” – ie managing them off the waiting list.

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Further on in the report are more graphs showing shameful levels of social neglect. It’s worth remembering that under Helen Clark’s Labour government pokie machines in the community increased from around 3,000 to 25,000 and a tsunami of social destruction followed. These number have been slowing pegged back to around 18,000 now under sinking lid policies but the revenue lost to communities continues to rise.

No-one in government will lose any sleep over this unfortunately.

Meanwhile New Zealanders on the lowest incomes continue to pay the highest proportion of their incomes in tax while the wealthiest pay pocket money amounts.

How much longer can New Zealand afford to carry the rich?



  1. How much longer will New Zealand be a country? Let’s go even more neo-colonial on the immigration levels and find out…

    • Is Sri Lanka in a Chinese debt trap, or just trapped?

      Sri Lanka is in its worst economic crisis since independence. A large part of that comes down to debt, which is running at 122% of GDP with 70% of that debt denominated in a foreign currency.

      The biggest part is in International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) – also known as eurobonds – of the type that played a major part in various Latin American debt crises.

      Outside these loans, Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral creditor is China.

      Chinese lending to developing countries skyrocketed after the global financial crisis of 2008. In the two years afterwards China loaned out more to developing countries than the World Bank did.

      While Asia and Africa have been the largest recipients of China’s recent lending binge it has also been seen in New Zealand’s immediate neighbourhood of the Pacific.

      China is the largest creditor in the Pacific, according to a paper prepared for the Pacific Regional Debt Conference in April, with two-thirds of Tonga’s debt owed to China’s Export-Import (Exim) bank and 40% of Samoa’s debt similarly owed to China.”

  2. This collapse into Third World-style living conditions can only go on for so long before the people revolt.

    Up until now, the most motivated and critical minded have simply left the country. The problem is that the living standards are now so bad, many cannot even afford to do this.

    The labour movement will need to be ready to lead the fight once the angry people eventually begin appearing on the streets. They don’t appear to be prepared for that at all.

    I often wonder whether people have been brainwashed into a sort of ‘national inferiority complex’. As the local media is so atrocious, it’s quite possible that people don’t actually know what is going on, or even remember how much better things were only a few decades ago.

  3. After credits, subsidies and other benefit refunds half of NZ households pay no net income tax & a small percentage (12 per cent) of individuals pay just under half of all personal taxation, and the top 3 per cent account for almost a quarter of all personal tax paid.

    Source Stuff 31 July 2019 “an inconvenient truth about tax in NZ”

    • You’re free to purchase a property, rent it out and show the world how’s it’s done, no one is stopping you.

      In fact if everyone who complains about the rental stock did that, and there’s many out their that do, then the problem would go away… Wouldn’t it?

    • 100% of what a poor person makes is taxed while only the proportion of income to cover expenses is paid by the rich meaning there is a certain percentage that remains untaxed.

    • That just proves how distorted our economic system has become Robbie. Families on median wages can no.longer afford to live without government assistance and those at the very top are obviously creaming off the greater part of the economic pie as witnessed by their tax contributions. As for those in the lower quartile. Collateral damage of an economic system that is clearly past its use by date.

  4. @ JM.
    I think that before the collective ‘we’ ask your question we need to broadcast exactly how the rich got rich, and, in many cases, why.
    ‘How’ some became hyper rich is really a two fold question with a two fold answer.
    The basic answer to the first component is by embezzling farmer earned cash from our traditional trading partners. Farmers are forced to sell their product at what ever the going rate of a pittance is these days.
    Example: I was in a store selling a common brand of work clothing. A wool work jersey I like the style of was a discounted $120.00. One of my neighbours has a sheep farm and his sheep grow the courser wool the jersey’s made from. The year before last, I think it was, he was given $ .70 cents a kg for his sheeps wool. The jersey I was looking at weighed about 400gms. That meant that the jersey had about $ .30 cents worth of wool in it.
    After the farmer and before the buyer of the farmers product is where they first wave of billionaires are built.
    The second wave of billionaires are post neoliberals where a select few grifters came up with the cunning plan to literally steal our state owned, farmer money funded cash assets and chattels. I.e. Privatising state owned assets. Alister Barry does a decent job of explaining that here. ‘Someone Else’s Country’
    We should ( But fuck knows how.) investigate the no persons land between how we earn our foreign exchange and who gets to hoard it.
    I knew a French fellow who lived and worked in AO/NZ as a ‘wool buyer’ for several companies in Europe.
    He told me that the wool board would take wool once purchased off farmers at the * supplementary minimum price ( SMP.) and store it a ‘wool stores’ until the companies at the other end were begging for the wool fibre to complete their commitments to their customers in the clothing and carpeting industries.
    AO/NZ’s primary industry is a mafia-like protection racket run by crooks and all legitimised by acts of parliament, of the lack of, to protect the relatively small group of good ol boys wading knee deep through billions of dollars gleaned by politically enabled cronyism.
    It should be mentioned that the so called government money given to farmers to ensure farmers never went bust was a lie, a logical fallacy and a swindle.
    SMP’s were effectively our farmers own money rerouted through the RBNZ to create the illusion that our dear gubbimint was being all generous and caring but in reality it was really a cynical means of control and exploitation of our primary industry. Tourism. Ba Ha!
    Royal Commission of Inquiry please.

    • @countryboy, much as I love you (& R.B.) and have at times only read the daily blog for your comments you keep asking for Royal Commission of Inquiry and I feel this maybe not the route to take in view of the fact that this will defer to the Crown, being the ‘establishment’, which will not investigate itself in any meaningful sort of way. NZ/AO being a town of many ports supporting all kind of traffic both sea and air is not immune to criminal activity as you have pointed out several times. The first class passengers would not welcome cameras in the slave galley, would they?

  5. Lets go all in! Lets blow Eee Orrs last $100b bazooka on a Disaster Recovery party! Fix it or Fuck it as the saying goes!

    For one last time, lets bring back the Ministry of Works and rebuild all our infrastructure and build more houses.

    A complete restructuring of the NZ economies focus to be on Infrastructure & Housing Construction!
    Every other part of the economy is to be related to or part of the supply chain, network and delivery of related services. Something like 80% of the entire countries revenues and investment be targeted on this.

    This would be at least 50 years of proper employment and meaningful income.

  6. It makes no sense to me that boomers arent being means tested while the rest of us are. Fair and equal country this is not.
    My disability is such if my wife wasnt working I would be on supported living payment, the new name for the invalids benefit but she earns too much and as such I dont have a community service card so the likes of the doctors ect are full charge. The govt did a review into poverty there were 24 recommendations and being supported by your partners was one of the issues that needed addressing, instead nothing has happened while I sill see the govt creating funds to keep the elderly in employment!
    Need to replace all 120 of these politicians, they are doing this on purpose.

  7. I know there are poor out there but is it a small minority because I see people out and about in there cars and shopping at the malls at all times of the day .The food court at Riccarton and Northland are busy all day and the food is not cheap.
    Being poor in this country relates back to the family you were born into and your physical and mental attributes.These last two need more government support to enable them to have the dignity of working for a wage if possible.
    The poverty cycle will not be broken until poor families can persuaded not to have no more children until they can house feed and educate the ones they have . Rather than the government paying child support they should pay a sum for them to stay child less.. There should also be a reward payment for getting the children to school .This would soon be self funding as Lee’s is paid out for youth crime .
    Taxing the few rich people in NZ mkre will not fix poverty as money is not the answer pride and self estimate in one self is .

    • NZ has been breeding poor for generations by paying the most useless and lazy people to breed the next generation of useless and lazy people.
      Labour and Greens call this kindness, but the truth is that it is cruelty.

      • Forced chemical sterilization for those on a benefit for over a year? A cull perhaps? Free trip to “aid” Ukraine? Less useless & lazy people.

        • When people do not have a valid argument they resort to hysterical suggestions.. Come up with a valid argument why the poor should have more children than they can support .The benefit is there to cover unforseen problem like lose of job or sickness.If there were less undeserving there would be more to the deserving g

    • Ah! Trevor is Mr. Sensible in this debate. There had to be one!

      He is on the money regarding family background. All the social science research shows that a child’s parents are THE major factor in determining outcomes for the child. Poor decision making by parents sets back a child’s development and then is copied by the child in adulthood because he has no other reference in life.

      So, if you want to see better outcomes for kiwis, stop taking money from the educated middle class and handing it to no-hopers in the form of child support. Just as he says, we should be paying them to NOT reproduce!

      (The road to hell is paved with good intentions)

    • Trevor the stats suggest there are far more poor people out there than your visit to a mall apparently tells you there are.

      We have the biggest gap ever between the haves and the have nots that surely is a major issue.

      John worked in poor schools for years in south Auckland, I remember him saying kids are pulled out of school to go to work in shitty little jobs to help the family make ends meet.

      Surely we need jobs that pay sufficient for people to actually live on.

      To limit how many children ‘some people’ can have is to me an outrage.

      I do wonder whether you and others have ever done the figures on people’s low incomes or benefits, we all know that many of these people are paying a high percentage in rent.

      • Agreed it really is an outrage that people like Andrew and Trevor think this way that the rights of parents to have children take a backstep to their little tribes beliefs. I am not buying their philosophy. I am sure most kiwis would not support their rantings.

      • It’s a fairly well-known fact the more wealthy a person (or country) is the fewer children they need to assure them of an old age with a bit of comfort.

    • Abortion on demand then. You want less ‘poor kids’ then you are going to have to make sure people can terminate their pregnancies when they want to.

    • trev how about we pay them a wage high enough that they don’t need govt assistance….that’d be start

      your right on breeding though the research says 2 is optimum and more is a virtual gaurantee of the next generations poverty

  8. Telling us the number on the waiting list for state houses is meaningless unless you also include the number in state houses along with the number of state houses in 2017 & now. There is more than 1 reason that the waiting list could have increased so if you want honesty about the privilege given to the wealthy you need to practice the same.

  9. Trade skill,no seems,unbeliavable, how can we get him on our employ,pick me up central,as the Kiwi/ Trade Union, negotiated,employers what soft control soft,of employers traffic jam they are in,no matter our government,20 cxent a litre, for them to get never crib,us kiwi we never crib.Compulsory Unionism,the best boss sorry its the law, i have to be part of the union,what about these meetings, ave got its the law.

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