In the New Zealand context what is poverty really?

When I was a child I wore some new clothes but I also wore hand me downs.

My family wasn’t poor.

My Mum bought cracked eggs from the farm to save money.

My family wasn’t poor.

She bought lamb flaps and turned them into mince with a hand mincer to save money.

My family wasn’t poor.

She grew vegetables and fruit on our quarter acre section in Kawerau

My family wasn’t poor.

She mended our worn clothes and extended the legs on my corduroy trousers with a pretty floral material.

My family wasn’t poor.

We didn’t have takeaways as a treat until I was around 11 and even then only once a year.

My family wasn’t poor.

My Mum cut everyone’s hair

My family wasn’t poor

We didn’t have a television until I was around 8

My family wasn’t poor.

We were a one income family but my family wasn’t poor.

The Labour government does not base poverty on what a family has or doesn’t have, they base it on what their income is in relation to everyone else.


Shouldn’t we measure poverty on what you don’t have?

What are the basics we expect in New Zealand?

  1. Access to electricity
  2. Access to clean water
  3. Access to a safe accommodation and a kitchen and bathroom
  4. Access to bedding and basic furniture and cooking utensils and plates, glasses cutlery etc
  5. Access to enough food and drink to sustain an individual in a healthy way.
  6. Access to medical care
  7. Access to education
  8. Access to clothes and footwear
  9. Access to transport of some kind, ie a bike, public transport, a car

Isn’t everything else lovely but extras that are not required to live a good, simple life?

Is Sky T.V really something that families must have in order to not be considered poor? Are you poor simply because your family cannot afford all new clothing? Are you poor because you can only afford a $6000 second-hand car? Are you poor because after you feed your tobacco habit and pay for your weekly crates of alcohol and have takeaways 5 nights in a row you have run out of money by Friday and have nothing in the cupboard to feed your children?

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If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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