Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)
Shortly after concluding our meeting with Ms Martin, our party met with Metiria Turei’s PA, and we were escorted to the Green’s 14th floor office in Bowen House.
At the Reception, we were introduced to waiting ‘Dominion Post‘ journalist, Kate Chapman, and photographer Kent Blechynden. A TV crew was present as well and after making introductions with the ‘Dompost‘ people, this blogger asked the TV crew,
“Are you here for Jazmine Heka’s meeting with Metiria Turei?”
The cameraman replied,
“No, we were here for something else.”
This blogger replied,
“Oh? Never mind. Come along for the interview anyway. You’re more than welcome and more the merrier.”
Our party, with journalists in-tow, filed into another Conference Room – this one having a magnificent view of the Beehive; Bowen State Building, and the Thorndon hills in the background.
Ms Turei joined us almost immediatly, and more introductions were made,
Ms Turei started by saying that,
“We have been campaigning strongly for a number of years around issues to do with child poverty and income inequity. The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and as a result life is harder for everybody, not just those at the real bottom.
At the election we campaigned very strongely on addressing child poverty and we had four main proposals that we were putting to the public about that.
To fix rental housing.
To increase the income of beneficiaries, to what’s now called the in-work tax credits, but would actually be an extension of benefits.
Extending the Training Incentive Allowance to more beneficiaries.”
Ms Heka said that those were good policies and asked if the Greens had a time-frame to achieve their policies if they were part of a government.
Ms Turei replied that they would be working toward a goal of getting 100,00o lifted out of poverty in one term. She said that part of New Zealand’s problem was the “working poor”, where people working full time were still in poverty because their wages were to low.
Ms Turei said she recently talked with young children in a poor area. She said that one child, with the gaming nick-name “Master Nighthawk”said to her, “we don’t want to be rich, we just want everyone to be ok“.
Ms Turei noticed that none of the children she spoke with belittled anyone else, and seemed supportive of one another. She noiced a strong spirit of mutual support between them.
Ms Turei said it would take a long time to eliminate poverty . She said many of the causes for poverty were deeply ingrained this country such as having 70,000 too few homes for low-income earners and beneficiaries. Building more homes would create more jobs, creating economic growth downstream, with other businesses benefitting from increased housing construction.
Ms Turei commended Ms Heka, saying that “this is the sort of pressure the government needs to act“. She added that this was “the sort of thing the public needs to see happening“.
Ms Turei then asked what sort of support or assistance the Greens could offer Ms Heka and her campaign. Ms Heka asked if her petition could be circulated amongst Gree Party members. Ms Turei said she’d be happy to assist, and that copies would indeed be included in any future mail-out.
Ms Heka then asked if Ms Turei would sign her petition, to which the Green co-leader readily consented,
Ms Turia commended Ms Heka for her stand on this important issue, and asked her how she felt about standing out in the public eye.
Ms Heka replied that she felt that having it come from someone as young as her – “a child’s perspective” – sent a “powerful” message to the government. She said it was not something she wanted to do but felt she had no choice, especially after watching Bryan Bruce’s documentary last November.
Ms Heka said that it should be the government leading the way instead of kids like her.
The half hour alloocated to our party grew to nearly a full hour, and both women filled the time discussing various matters relating to the issue of poverty in New Zealand. This blogger noticed that they were both very much on the “same wavelength”.
Ms Turei eventually excused herself, as she had another appointment to keep.
The ‘Dominion Post‘ photographer, Kent Blechynden, asked Ms Heka to pose for several photographs, which she (shyly) consented. Again, this blogger sensed that Ms Heka – like most teenagers – reluctantly agreed to being photographed. But her sense of committment to her cause, though, over-rode her natural shyness,
Below, the story and photograph as it appeared in the ‘Dominion Post’ on the following morning,
* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.
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