The danger of making poverty a ‘Māori’ or ‘Pacifica’ thing is that it masks the huge number of white people in poverty


‘Lonely, cold, hungry’: Pain even hits middle income schools in cost of living crisis

Principals in even middle-income schools are reporting unprecedented levels of need as the cost of living crisis bears down on some of the youngest New Zealanders.

They are speaking out now, under the condition of anonymity to protect their students, as schools and early childcare charity KidsCan, which helps schools feed and clothe children, launches its winter appeal amid dropping donations as donors react to their own living cost crisis by cutting back on charity.

A principal in a North Island school, which was decile 5 before the system was ditched, has her school on the KidsCan waiting list.

She last week found a young boy crying in the playground. When she asked him what was wrong, he said he was “lonely, cold and hungry”. She has another family sleeping in a tent in someone’s backyard and regularly brings in her own children’s clothes to keep her students warm.

There is a real danger in NZ Politics that when you attack policy as racist to Māori we play the ‘is it racist’ game where everyone screams it is or isn’t, everyone goes back to their polarised corners, nothing progresses.

We’ve done it with Police shootings, we’ve done it with Police taking photos of kids and we did it with the vaccination rates.

Back in November 2021 when we were chasing vaccination rates, there were 159, 810 Māori unvaccinated, 42, 183 Pasifika unvaccinated and a staggering 317, 544 Pakeha who are unvaccinated!

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By constantly screaming vaccine hesitancy is a Māori and Pasifica problem, we let 317, 544 Pakeha off the hook!

I fear we’ve done the same thing with child poverty.

Last year there were 156,700 children in poverty, 53,600 identify as Maori, 72,600 identify as pakeha.

There are more white children in poverty than Māori children and that might be difficult to visualise because the focus is almost exclusively on Māori children.

Yes, proportionately these stats hit Māori hardest, but by allowing that to decide the entire focus of the debate we ignore the far larger numerical problem of those issues impacting poor White families and that allows an escape to scrutinize what’s really happening.

By constantly blaming Māori we can’t see that this is a failure of neoliberalism that cascades across race. Left universalism is the way we challenge these inequalities not targeted crumbs!

It’s not an identity issue, it’s a class issue exacerbated by a neoliberal economic hegemony that purposely rigs the system!


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  1. Ye Gods – finally some common sense. Having grown up poor and pakeha – I find the current narrative bundling up poverty with race, spouted forth by guilt-ridden middle-class, supercilious ‘socialists’ who return nightly to well-heated homes in the leafy suburbs and who wouldn’t know what poverty felt like if it kicked them up the arse – to be patronising to Maori and insulting to Pakeha.

    • 100% Jason. Same as me. Grew up in poverty and family addiction and abuse.

      Background didn’t do a lot for me, but not a criminal

      • Anker, maori are more poorer because Pakeha dispossessed them of their lands and livelihoods peppered with systemic racism that here even to this day.

        You wouldn’t have a fucken glue what its like to be Maori in their own country.

        • Actually Stephen, I don’t see that Anker was claiming to have a ‘fucken glue’ about being a Maori in ‘their own country’ – only that, for some of us, who grew up poor and white, this idea of ‘white privilege’ is total bullshit. But you just keep on with your broken record of identity politics and blaming Captain Cook – I’m more interested in discussing practical ways to improve opportunities for poor kids – regardless of their skin colour – in ‘OUR own country’.

        • stephen: more whining rubbish. Surely you can do better than that!

          Many of us pakeha grew up in grinding poverty: we had NOTHING, inherited NOTHING. My partner and I both came from that sort of background. But we got ourselves educated and – despite many obstacles – worked hard and dragged ourselves out of poverty. If we could do it, so could Maori. Many have, of course. But some haven’t. It has nothing to do with ethnicity

    • Jason, I completely agree. I’ve pointed out repeatedly on this blogsite that poverty doesn’t affect just Maori and Pacific people. It’s patronising and insulting to say that it does. The same thing applies to health status: the issue is class, not ethnicity.

  2. It’s par for the course with Labour. Paint Maori as the worst of everything. Why? I don’t know but my educated guess is the Maori caucus tail that wags the lazy dumb Labour dog, likes it that way because much more money and importantly more control is surrendered by government but the destructive side effect meanwhile is pitting the races against each other. Another reason for Labour to be expunged from power, if we needed one.

    • Xray
      Yep, victimhood is a massive industry. Of course the cause isn’t helped with tv ads where people, well dressed and clearly living and eating dinner in a nice house, plead poverty.

      • The establishment politicians will never point out that poor blacks are ultimately impoverished for exactly the same structural economic reasons as poor whites. Once Martin Luther King pivoted towards the Poor People’s March and started bringing all of the working class together, he was considered an unbearable threat to Wall Street. He had to go.

        The local politicians and press deploy a curious kind of racialist nationalism. They do not speak of black poverty, or coloured poverty, but always Maori and Other Pacific Islander poverty, divided and arranged into a kind of hierarchy (only local natives with the right bloodline will get to run the tribal corporations).

        Nobody cares if you’re a homeless Libyan or Syrian whose country was levelled by U.S. bombs — unless you can be imported and used as cheap exploitable labour, that is.

    • If there’s anyone pitting races against each other it’s NatAct and a huge chunk of the 1ZB crowd. Half the pearl clutching over the surgery waiting list was based on complete bollocks and people not having a f’ing clue what they’re talking about. In fact 1ZB should stop pretending they are remotely interested in reporting actual facts and just say they are the campaigning for National.

        • Is that a joke? You must be taking the piss. Between wanker Hoskings, Kate H, and Kerre Woodhead they gave shockingly sparse detail to stir up shit. That’s much the same as National on the topic. Also, once promoters of co governance examples they now completely slag it off.

  3. Martyn – 100% — heaps of poverty within selected areas of white dominated spaces, including white families…Christchurch East is a great example.

  4. If only we had a government that would put solutions out based on need, social, medical, financial rather then on race. Oh my if only.
    And since when do people identify as a race and an ethnicity?

  5. more people get killed on a pedestrian crossing then not. Why? statistically there are more pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing. Maybe we should ban then?
    Fact is that this government has been milking this statistics to the max for ‘maori/PI identifying’ people – cause systematic racism, victim hood, colonism, and money went to Maori/PI, and ticket to rugby games, hangi vouchers, kfc vouchers, food vouchers- be that to fill out the census or to go get vaccinated.
    These poor white kids are colonizers, systematic racists and thus are privileged and we don’t give shit to poor, hungry, unhoused privileged white people.
    Where have you been these last several years? Living in the shade of your own rosy impression of the Labour Party?

    • Yes Bratty – agreed – Men die 4 years earlier than women on average – so is this systemic sexism? maybe we should ban women’s health initiatives too – as being ‘inequitable’? Time we started concentrating on improving opportunities for our poor kids – and stopped being diverted by the sex/race/class agendas of paisley-shirted people who just get in the way of real solutions.

  6. Exactly right Martyn! This whole exercise is divisive, racist and simply illogical.

    There are maybe a million people out there doing just fine who could legitimately claim to be ‘Māori’ according to the current highly elastic yardstick. It’s just that they don’t brand themselves as such. The majority aren’t even on the Māori voter roll!

    With the Māori population only about 13% and of those only maybe only 2% have more than 50% Māori ancestry, the self-applied Māori label has become an just excuse for failure.

    • Oh fuckaia Andrew, on your little race baiting rant again. You clowns make out that you’ve been disenfranchised because maori want better outcomes for their people!!!

  7. OK, so racialization of poverdy is not OK. But racialization of health care is OK – or even good. Have I got that right?

  8. This is standard identity politics. If we instead look at it from a class perspective then it’s clear Maori are over-represented in the lowest class, but no worse off than others in that same class. Equally Maori in the top socio-economic classes are no worse of than other ethnicities in the upper classes.

    The true danger of constantly pointing out lower statistics for Maori is the implication that it is a race thing and that Maori are somehow inferior. Socio-economic issues are far more complex than the constant screams of systemic racism.

    • Looking at it from a class perspective, that too is white supremacist. After all Marx was white.

    • yes, if poverty is only a Maori/PI ‘thing’, then people could legitimately ask about a culture’s contribution to poverty verses success.

    • Ben Waimata, ‘Maori are over-represented in the lowest class, but no worse off than others in that same class.’ Do pakeha experience systemic racism? Do pakeha have their ethnicity used as a political football? Did NZ pakeha get dispossessed of their lands, resources, livelihoods? another ignorant embazzol that clutching at straws!!

  9. “We let 300,000 pakeha off the hook!”
    Seriously?! Are you serious??
    We let them down!!!
    And we will keep letting “them” down because we blame “them”, those who need care.

  10. The system is corrupted, neoliberal economic policy is but one tool, albeit a key tool of this broken system. Poverty is coming for us all if we don’t address our broken political system

  11. Maori are over represented in road crash statistics.

    It’s racist to tolerate a worse outcome.

    Surely there has to be a lower speed limit for Maori to ensure equity.

    Is this not exactly the same situation as the surgery wait lists?
    Insane isn’t it.

  12. Going off the vaccination rates alone shows you Māori are way smarter than pakeha.

    It’s kinda funny though when people start waking up to the dangers of identity politics. It’s as though is on purpose. Divide and conquer.

    The individual will always be the smallest minority.

    • Can you please provide the source of this covid data.

      The official site does not reflect that. It is sad that there is a necessity for a racial breakdown of these stats, but that is the way it is.

      I guess you think it is free speech to make up data that pleases you, or support your theory. But no, that is not how free speech actually works.

      • JKT, assuming the K is for Karen, T for troll, what data was I making up? Perhaps you’re referring to the numbers cited in the article.
        And you obviously have no idea how free speech works. What you’re talking about is censorship. Now say it with me, Troll, Censorship.

  13. the trouble with victimhood is that it says ‘oh right that groups is the problem’ much pearl clutching ensues and it becomes another ‘oh dearism’ which leads to…excuses for doing nothing

  14. You do realise Einstein that unless you are now onto booster number 3, shot 5 , you are essentially unvaccinated?

    • Pedro, shhhh, they did what the man told them to do, they complied and wagged fingers at the unclean. Having a clean social credit score is much more important than actual science.

  15. Hallelujah – Now you are getting to why so many of us are against race based policies.

    MPac have the highest % of poverty but the numbers in poverty numerically are ‘other NZers’. Almost the only thing, I agree with Luxon on is that a NZ defined by race is a NZ than cannot stand for long.

    We need to stop wallowing in history and victimhood and get back to $’s and Sense (As in Common Sense). Where is the need? and how can we get the best bang for our Buck?

    Have more democracy based on full equality, less focus on ‘special seats and special rights’ and much more focus on communities and the people.

    We dont need elite controlled ‘transformational’ govt (which has brought us the disasters of neo liberalism and race based approaches) but one that is dominated by ‘the people’. Yes us, the great unwashed.

    Why cant we have additional questions at election time? You turn up to vote and then additionally get to choose from say ten areas that need government time and money put into them.

    I think this could work if the media had some good practice requirements around it as Bomber suggested yesterday The media’s job then becomes reporting on the issues, what the options are, how much they cost, metrics. Is the government advancing the priority areas etc? Keeping the govt honest.

    Generally informing the debate in a robust way. Election year could then be more about priorities and policies than ad hominem or ideological attacks. Also about each parties plans for the future of the priority areas and a full accounting of current govt progress on them.

  16. Poverty in New Zealand is a disgrace made worse by the Labour Government.
    Beyond dispute consult the statistics from 2017 to 2023.

    • Statistics N.Z. highlight poverty increased at a higher level under National given their mass immigration policy between 2009 and 2017. That is indisputable.

  17. “Last year there were 156,700 children in poverty, 53,600 identify as Maori, 72,600 identify as pakeha.”

    Tell us again how this is White Privilege and Tyranny Of The Majority and not economics. Child poverty is parents subject to a low-wage, high-rent economy.

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