We regularly read reports about child poverty in New Zealand. We worry about the effects of this on our children. They have less than desirable levels of health, both physical and mental and some would say spiritual. Their education suffers for a range of reasons, putting them in a position where they find it hard to join mainstream New Zealand.
Whatever the reason for these high figures, it is the kids who suffer and they are not to blame. Ask any teacher who battles to teach hungry and tired students; the task is incredibly difficult. Many of these children will not achieve their full potential and that in a country that prides itself on the general high standard of living is simply not good enough.
How do we change this disgraceful situation? I don’t want to hear yet more of the same from those ‘who have made it’ and who say that ‘if they could drag themselves up, anyone can.’ It is time that we all took responsibility for our ‘collective children,’ and make the necessary contribution to the wellbeing of the children of our nation. Helping does not always mean paying more taxes; it can take the form of mentoring, caring about a neighbour and being aware of the conditions so many of our young people endure.
The ‘grandmother who helps young parents to ‘make the dollar stretch a little more, simply by showing parents how to ‘grow a garden’ or fix up something that doesn’t need to be thrown away. Help may take the form of caring about someone. It is amazing what breaking the bonds of ‘isolation’ can do for a family that is struggling. Whether such help comes from the church or a good neighbour does not matter; it’s the reaching out that counts.
On a political level, we have seen the destructive policies of successive Governments, but one in particular that does not lift people from the bottom rung. Politics sometimes represents ‘fiddling while Rome burns.’ One would think that our politicians, from any party, would get out there and know how things are for many families at the bottom. In parts of Auckland it almost feels that some suburbs are a ‘no go area,’ something to be put out of the minds of politicians; ‘leave it alone and maybe no one will notice’ kind of approach.
A nation that cares for all of its children is a nation that succeeds. Is that the New Zealand you wake up to every morning?