Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Jazmine Heka’

Tracey Martin – The Children’s Champion

1 November 2017 1 comment

.

.

From a blogpost I wrote on 31 December 2013;

Tracey Martin – one of Parliament’s best kept “secrets”. One to watch out for as her career in politics is on the rise. Recently elevated to Deputy Leader of NZ First, she has the potential to increase her Party’s public approval

.

NZ First’s Tracey Martin, Minister for Children

.

Nearly four years later, and my prediction has become reality. On 25 October, incoming Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that NZ First’s talented Tracey Martin would be appointed to the new Labour-NZF-Green cabinet as a full-ranking Minister;

Tracey Martin (NZ First): Minister for Children; Internal Affairs; Seniors; Associate Minister of Education

… Ms Ardern said New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin would be a strong advocate for children in her ministerial position, which also oversees Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

I fully endorse Ms Martin’s appointment to this position. In this blogger’s own experience, Ms Martin should prove to be a dedicated champion to lift children out of the poverty-trap created after thirtythree years of the failed neo-liberal experiment.

In April 2012, Jazmine Heka took a petition to then Opposition MP and NZ First spokesperson for Children, Tracey Martin. The petitions called for;

  1. To provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  2. To provide free healthcare for all children including prescription costs
  3. To introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental homes

.

Jazmine Heka, anti-Poverty campaigner, meets with Tracey Martin, Member of Parliament.

.

There was wide-ranging discussion between Jazmine and Ms Martin with the MP treating her guest with respect. She listened to Jazmine for a full hour, discussing dental treatment in schools; food in schools; a warrant of fitness for all rental housing, and poverty in general.

As I reported at the time;

Ms Martin recalled when, in her youth, every school had a dental nurse and clinic-room on school-grounds, and children’s teeth were properly looked after,

Our policy is that all children must have access to free dental healthcare for the period of their schooling.”

.

In depth discussion surrounding the nature of school meals drew constructive discussion from Jazmine and Tracey.

.

This blogger also reported Ms Martin’s willingness to draw from other political parties;

Ms Martin agreed and referred to a “brilliant speech” by Russell Norman (Green Co-Leader), where he revealed that government had lost $2  billion of of last year’s tax-take. She said, “three years of that and we wouldn’t have to sell any state assets“.

Had those tax cuts [2009 and 2010]  not happened, we could afford free healthcare for all children.

Ms Martin referred to the Mana Party’s financial transactions tax, which she said  Annette Sykes called “the Hone Heke” tax, and which “was worth looking at, and worth taking really seriously“. It was understood that such a FTT would have to be internationally implemented, as it might otherwise risk causing a capital-flight.

The strength of the Labour-NZF-Greens coalition are the core values which each constituent party has to offer. All three have constructive, forward-looking policies and dedicated, intelligent people willing to deliver them for a better future for our country.

If the willingness of a member of parliament to sit and listen to a sixteen year old is any indication, then our new Minister for Children has been an encouraging,  positive first step for our new government.

Somewhat presciently, I wrote five years ago;

The discussion moved to a related issue, and Ms Heka asked about NZ First’s policy regarding having a high-ranking minister – or even the Prime Minister – as the Minister for Children. The premise being that if the Prime Minister was also the Minister for Children, then it would give extra impetus to policies as they might impact on his portfolio; the nations young people.

Ms Martin agreed saying,

“Well, to keep that in the view, I would have thought. To make sure that it’s part of every conversation; how will this, downstream, affect children.“

If the Prime Minister was Minister for children, it was suggested, then as with US President, Harry Truman,  “The Buck Stops Here” on child poverty issues.

Jacinda Ardern has appointed herself Minister for Child Poverty Reduction. Hopefully, Ms Ardern and Ms Martin will create a powerful partnership with which to combat and eradicate the scourge of child poverty in this country.

Postscript: Meanwhile, back in Rabid Rightwing Ratbag Land…

Right-wing idiocy and mis-information has reached new depths in West Australia with the publication of a scurrilous piece of fake news/opinion, by conservative  so-called journalist and former The West Australian editor, Paul Murray.

In an error-laden, ratbag opinion piece on 25 October, Murray  suggested that homelessness and child poverty did not exist in New Zealand. He dismissed poverty and homelessness;

Well, I’d describe it as hyperbole. If they haven’t got enough to survive they would be dying.

[…]

An inquiry by the New Zealand Herald found Labour was using a very broad definition of homelessness by international standards and judged that claim “mostly fiction”.

While Labour used a university study showing 41,000 people were “severely housing deprived” — meaning sleeping rough, living in cars or garages, or in emergency or temporary shelters — official government figures for those “without habitable accommodation” was about 4000.

Which would be  inexplicable, considering  that  Bill English promised to cut child poverty by 100,000 during the election campaign last month;

.

.

If poverty and homelessness was a “fiction” as Murray asserted, then the Leader of the National Party promised on 5 September, in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers, to raise 100,000 non-existent children out of poverty. And the mainstream media bought it.

Quite a ‘trick’.

He also derided Winston Peters’ decision for his choice in coalition partner;

These themes were echoed by Peters when justifying his decision to bypass the Nationals who won 44.45 per cent of the vote and to install Labour which polled just 36.89 and only 43.16 when combined with the supportive Greens.

Murray omitted to mention that a Labour-Green-NZ First bloc represented 50.4% of the popular vote. Obviously basic arithmetic is not his strong point because 50.4% beats 44.45% every time.

But his outright misrepresentation of facts reached it’s nadir when he shamelessly claimed;

The NZ Nationals got debt down to 38 per cent of GDP compared to Australia’s 47 per cent. Watch that figure skyrocket.

Either Murray is woefully ignorant of recent New Zealand history – or he is wilfully lying. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of facts should  know that by 2008  Labour had paid down net debt to 5.4%;

.

.

National did not pay down debt. They grew it massively, fuelled by two unaffordable tax cuts (2009 and 2010) and shameless corporate welfare.

Never let facts get in the way of a right-wingers flight of fantasy.

This is the sort of rubbish that Labour, NZ First, and the Greens will have to deal with in the coming years.

.

.

.

References

Radio NZ:  New government ministers revealed

The West Australian:  Opinion – Why the New Zealand poll experiment matters to Australia

Mediaworks:  English says new poverty reduction target was planned

Trading Economics:  New Zealand Government Net Debt to GDP

Other blogs

The Standard:  After nine long years National discovers there is child poverty in New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

2013 – The Year that Was

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington.

.

.

.

 

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 October 2017.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

17 April 2012 2 comments

.

Continued from Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

.

.

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,

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jamine Heka meeting Greens co-leader, Metiria Turei.

.

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.”

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Getting down to it, and dsiscussing the important issues of the day.

.

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.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

The Greens party-policy position was close Ms Heka’s concerns and practically ‘mirrored’ aspects to her petitions.

.

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,

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Ms Turei was only too happy to sign Ms Heka’s petition and said that the Green Party would be willing to circulate copies to everyone on their mailing list.

.

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,

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

‘Dominion Post’ photographer, Kent Blechynden, lining up Ms Heka for the photo-shoot.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Photographer, Kent Blechynden, snapping away for the upcoming ‘Dominion Post’ story.

.

Below, the story and photograph as it appeared in the ‘Dominion Post’ on the following morning,

.

.

*

.

* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

Contact Details for Children Against Poverty

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140

Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

.

= fs =

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington.

17 April 2012 4 comments

.

.

When Bryan Bruce’s excellent documentary, “Inside Child Poverty“,  screened last year, New Zealand’s poor  and powerless burst into the living rooms of middle-New Zealand like never before. It caused a furore, screening only days before the election and becoming an overnight ‘hot’ political issue.

As Bryan Bruce said,

“… It’s not because their parents don’t care. They do.

They’re just poor. Typically they can’t afford Bryan Bruce Inside Child Povertyheating so they huddle together in one room and in large families that’s how diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis and rheumatic fever are spread,” he explains.

Bruce then travels to Sweden to find out why the Swedes are second for child health and New Zealand is third from the bottom.

“What I discovered is that they work smarter,” says Bruce. “They know that for every dollar they spend on prevention they save about $4 on cure. They have a completely free health care system for children up to the age of 18”. ” – Source

Had it not been for a certain infamous Epsom tea-party, which distracted the public’s attention, it might possibly  have swung the election in Labour’s favour.

Bryan Bruce’s stark, no-holds-barred truth  certainly encouraged one person to take up the cause; Jazmine Heka, 16, student,

.

Full Story

.

Upon learning of her campaign this blogger wrote, commending Jazmine Heka for  having the courage to make such  a public stand.

See: Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

There is something energising and uplifting about youthful idealism, that is positively ‘infectious’ to others. Youthful idealism seems to  compel older, supposedly ‘wiser’, folk to reassess pressing issues and shamefully we ask ourselves; why are things not any better? Why is it left to children and young folk to prick our consciences?

Why indeed.

Soon after, this blogger wrote  another related blogpiece on Karen, who was promoting not one – but three petitions sponsored by Ms Heka.

See:  Petition opposing child poverty gains strength

The petitions called for;

  1. To provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  2. To provide free healthcare for all children including prescription costs
  3. To introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental homes

(The petitions can be downloaded here.)

That blogstory was shared throughout this blogger’s Facebook contacts, including Ms Heka. In March, Ms Heka contacted this blogger explaining that she was visiting Wellington and could we assist her in meeting members of Parliament, to promote her campaign and petitions against child poverty .

It was a privilege to be asked. Phone calls were made. Messages left. Appointments confirmed.

Due to a mix-up in airline arrangements, Ms Heka bussed from Whangarei to Auckland, and after five hours, bussed from Auckland to Wellington over Thursday night. By Friday morning, when we arrived to pick her up at 9am, she and her friend had had only two hours sleep.

Despite her fatigue, she was cheerful and keen. It would be a long day ahead of us.

Our first appointment was with Tracey Martin, New Zealand First’s spokesperson on Youth and Women’s Affairs (amongst other portfolios).

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

First priority: coffee! We all needed to be wide awake and alert.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside the main doors to Bowen House parliamentary annex. Petitions in hand!

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside Bowen House, Jazmine was recognised by a woman collecting for Rape Crisis. Jazmine took the opportunity to explain the purpose of her petitions to them.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Both women were only to happy to sign all three of Jazmine’s petition.

.

Once through security, NZ First MP, Tracey Martin came to meet us at Reception and we adjourned to a nearby conference room,

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jazmine Heka, anti-Poverty campaigner, meets with Tracey Martin, Member of Parliament.

.

The conversation between Ms Heka and Ms Martin took up the full hour we had been allotted, and was deep and wide-ranging.

Ms Heka asked if NZ First had any policies relating to children’s issues.

Ms Martin replied,

“We haven’t got a specific child poverty plan… but there are probably several policies like dental care , for example. *

Ms Martin referred to NZ First’s under 5’s free healthcare programme that had been introduced in 1997. She added that NZF had been a dominant supporter for the “HIPPY” programme, which is a reading and home educational programme directed at  several  low decile areas.

Ms Martin asked if the petition calling for “free healthcare for all children including prescription costs” also involved increased access to dental care for children. She said that lack of dental care was a real problem, especially in the north, where incomes were low and unemployment was high.

Ms Martin said that the mobile dental clinic these days only assessed the child’s teeth, and then advised parents what remedial work needed to be done. The mobile dentist did not carry out the actual remedial dental work themselves,

We shifted from dental clinics at schools to mobile dental clinics. They come under the DHB services.  What we’re now hearing is, and I’ve got to have  this confirmed , but what we’re now hearing is that the mobile clinic  will certainly go to the school and they’ll look at the children’s teeth but they won’t fix anybody So the parent then has to drive the child from where ever that is to the local largest township to go to the dentist to have the tooth fixed.

That’s wonderful when you’re in an urban area perhaps, but… you got to take time off from work to do that. So what that means for our rural areas where many of our lower deciles are, is that the parents now have the costs of transporting their children… 

The parents aren’t going to take those children. Because they can’t afford the gas, to get the children to the free dentist in Te Awamutu.  That is why we put in free mobile dental clinics.

So, you know, there are issues that come up, issue by issue by issue like that. That one hasn’t even broken yet. That one  I’m still waiting to make sure  that I know 100%  that’s it’s taking place.

Ms Martin recalled when, in her youth, every school had a dental nurse and clinic-room on school-grounds, and children’s teeth were properly looked after,

Our policy is that all children must have access to free dental healthcare for the period of their schooling.”

Increased funding for mobile dental vans was one aspect she felt was important in this area.

Ms Heka questioned further,

So what about, like, all their healthcare? Not just dental?

Ms Martin’s response,

Well, it’s in our manifesto. The policy is that we  had  childcare extended and free doctor’s visits for under 5s through to all primary school aged children, so up to the age of 10. And we wanted that to cover 7 day, 24 hour care. When you live close to a major  hospital that’s not a problem. But when you don’t, like in Warkworth for example…the closest emergency place on a Sunday was Red Beach  that’s 30 minutes ‘that’ way [indicates]  and that cost me  $110 to have him x-rayed there so that then  they would put him into hospital. Or the parent in Warkworth   would have to drive the hour and a half to Starship.”

Ms Heka suggested the option of having a doctor in school to check out kids.

Ms Martin nodded in agreement and said they had raised this issue in 2006 with children being assessed for ailments such as glue-ear, and for hearing tests carried out. She said “it was all very well for them being done there, but they weren’t being followed up, and some of that was around  the cost of having to follow up with doctor’s visits, etc, etc.”

Ms Martin said that this issue had been raised in the media, asking for more intervention in schools.  She said it might be feasible if, for example, the largest school in a “hub” of schools had a dentist and clinic, and serviced all schools within the area of the “hub”. Ms Martin referred to schools being in “clusters” so not every school would need such facilities. She suggested a doctor that went out daily to the other schools, but was based in the [largest] school.

Ms Martin was concerned at how such a programme might be funded and said it comes down to the most efficient and effective way of funding.

At this point, this blogger raised the point of how our taxation base inevitably comes into issues like this. The point was made that we have had seven  tax cuts enacted since 1986, and people wonder why we don’t have the social services we once had, or would like to have. It’s not rocket science – we still have to pay for things.

Ms Martin agreed and referred to a “brilliant speech” by Russell Norman (Green Co-Leader), where he revealed that government had lost $2  billion of of last year’s tax-take. She said, “three years of that and we wouldn’t have to sell any state assets“.

Had those tax cuts [2009 and 2010]  not happened, we could afford free healthcare for all children.

Ms Martin referred to the Mana Party’s financial transactions tax, which she said  Annette Sykes called “the Hone Heke” tax, and which “was worth looking at, and worth taking really seriously“. It was understood that such a FTT would have to be internationally implemented, as it might otherwise risk causing a capital-flight.

[Blogger’s note; it’s refreshing to see a politician referring openly and honestly to good ideas from other political parties, instead of remainly stubbornly ‘tribal’  on party-policy issues.  May this local form of ‘detente’ flourish and thrive.]

Discussion turned to school meals, as per one of Ms Heka’s petitions. Ms Martin stated asked if the petition was calling for full, hot cafetaria-type meals, or “brown-bagged” lunches? She said she had costed “brown bagged” lunches  consisting of a sandwich, muffin, piece of fruit, and a drink, at $3.52 per bag.

There was a question as to whether all children should be given school meals (whether cafeteria-style or bagged lunch) or whether it should be targetted only.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

In depth discussion surrounding the nature of school meals drew constructive discussion from Jazmine and Tracey.

.

The pros and cons of targetting were weighed. The concensus seemed to be that targetting children from  low-income families would likely end up as a form of stigmatising.  One idea that seemed to have merit was a universal free school lunch, with an opt-out choice for parents who did not feel the need to participate.

In such an event, parents opting out could select from a range of charities where the money could be re-allocated, perhaps to other charities working with children or increased dental care . It was agreed that there were several options open to how such a programme could be managed and that a fair, workable solution was not beyond our abilities.

Ms Heka asked how NZ First would implement the programmes that her petitions were promoting.

Ms Martin replied by stating that NZ First believed that the primary cause of poverty in New Zealand was a lack of jobs,

People aren’t working. We have to create more jobs,” she said. “One way to do that is to cap the New Zealand dollar like some other countries do, which creates more employment through more exports.”

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin about introducing a warrant of fitness for all rental housing in New Zealand. She asked if NZ First had a policy on this issue.

Ms Martin replied,

We don’t. But I think it’s a great idea!”

Ms Martin  added that the suggestion of a warrant of fitness for all rental properties tied in with NZ First’s minimum standards of care for the elderly. She said “why  would we not actually  come up with a national standard  in the same way what you’re talking about, which is we’re talking about rental properties,” and added “we’d certainly be interested“.

The discussion moved to a related issue, and Ms Heka asked about NZ First’s policy regarding having a high-ranking minister – or even the Prime Minister – as the Minister for Children. The premise being that if the Prime Minister was also the Minister for Children, then it would give extra impetus to policies as they might impact on his portfolio; the nations young people.

Ms Martin agreed saying,

Well, to keep that in the view, I would have thought. To make sure that it’s part of every conversation; how will this, downstream, affect children.

If the Prime Minister was Minister for children, it was suggested, then as with US President, Harry Truman,  “The Buck Stops Here” on child poverty issues.

.

Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Discussion moved to having a high-ranking minister for children, as children were the future of this country and nothing could be more important than the wellbeing of our next generation.

.

It was suggested that NZ First could make this a priority, for the future of New Zealand. Ms Martin agreed it was a matter she would raise with the NZF caucus.

The issue of Kiwi migration was touched upon, with the suggestion that people – especially young folk – were leaving New Zealand, not just because of lower wages here, but because they felt no connection with society and thus were able to up-and-leave for “greener/richer pastures” in Australia. Because we weren’t looking after them, they had no roots to keep them in New Zealand.

At that point Ms Heka, speaking from deep within her heart, gave us an insight into how young people were viewing things around them,

It feels unfair. It feels like… like if you’re not rich, you’re not counted in society. That’s the feeling I get… the feeling youth get.  I talk with people my age, in my group and stuff and that’s the feeling that they get, they don’t want to be in New Zealand ’cause the feelings not good, not right. And they feel like you’re not being looked after, and stuff.

What I think is that child poverty, like,  I feel like  it’s  swept under the carpet.  And the government, they’re not really tackling it straight ahead. It’s just being talked about; something being hidden and nothing’s done about it. They’re going around in circles. And then you got  all these children suffering and nothing’s… no one cares really…

… In the community you’ve got the Salvation Army, people like that helping but that’s not enough. We need the government to step up and actually be the leaders of it.

Ms Martin replied, and said,

So with regard to how you said about... “

At this point, she paused. Ms Heka had spoken about youth and their feelings about disconnection. It gave her pause for thought. Ms Martin continued,

“… it is an interesting feeling that is happening, and you said about  it’s unfair, that actually the country itself doesn’t necessarily care about it’s citizens. And if you look at the turnout , the voter turnout, that now we’ve  also got  citizens that think actually, ‘I can’t make a difference either, so why should I vote?”.  Now there you’ve got a real problem. Because that will get to a certain level inside your society and people will revolt.”

She added ,

I’ll take all these things back… I’ll take it back to caucus; caucus will meet again in a fortnight when Parliament comes back [from recess] and ask the guys to to start working towards policy  areas for this, for 2014.”

At the concklusion of our allotted time, Ms Heka asked if she could be kept informed on NZ First’s progress on developing the ideas that had been discussed. Ms Martin readily agreed and provided  Ms Heka with her direct contact details.

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin if she would sign her petitions, to which the MP happily agreed.

Continued at Ms Heka Goes To Wellington  (Part #Rua)

.

* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

* * *

.

Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Related

HIPPY – home interaction programme for parents and youngsters

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

.

= fs =

The fuse is lit…

13 February 2012 2 comments

.

The social bomb of poverty is lit

.

One of the inescapable consequences of poverty;  over-crowding and damp housing; poor nutrition; and unaffordable healthcare,

.

.

It is interesting that Dr Baker says,

“Maybe we should be using the same approach to deal with all infectious diseases in children.”

A basic thing would be a housing warrant of fitness that covers health, safety and sustainability issues, a bit like the five-star approach with appliances.” He believes that could be run by the Auckland Council.”

A “warrant of fitness” for rental housing is precisely what Jazmine Heka is calling for in one of her petitions. Good, decent, housing would go a long way to preventing the spread of some infectious disease. Bryan Bruce pointed this out to us last year, in his excellent documentary, last year.

Taxpayers and landlords of good housing might care to note that they are subsidising bad landlords with sub-standard accomodation. Bad landlords collect the rent – but we taxpayers foot the medical bill for their tenants who become sick.

If middle-class New Zealanders believe that this issue does not affect them -let me dis-abuse them of that delusion.

Disease bacteria and virii make no distinction between social classes.

Disease bacteria and virii do not care if you live in Epsom or South Auckland.

Disease bacteria and virii care not one jot what your income or bank balance is.

If Mr Smith from North Shore walks past Ms Jones from Otara; and one is carrying an infectious disease and coughs as you walk past each other – congratulations. You’ve just been infected.

Or, pushing a trolley through a supermarket. You’d be surprised at the grime and micro-organisms on supermarket trolley handles. So the previous handler sneezed, and gripped the trolley? Now you have the same trolley?

Congratulations. You’ve just been infected.

Your child goes to the same school as someone from an over-crowded house, where measles, rheumatic fever,  or meningitis is rampant? Congratulations – you and/or your children are  going to be sick.

Poverty related disease do not respect socio-economic divisions or suburban boundaries.

If the middle classes believe they are immune, simply because they live in a “nice street”; drive the latest model Holden; and have a very generous income – think again.

The time bomb fuse is lit. The first major outbreak of measles has already happened. The next disease may be lethal and result in many grieving families.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the way of our country. We wait for a few fatalities and rising death toll before we are spurred to action. Until then… *shrug*

This is simply not good enough.

If we aspire to be a developed, civilised society – a First World nation – then standing idly by while disease like rheumatic fever continue to spread through our community is simply unacceptable.  As a society, we are not doing enough to prevent these diseases from spreading – and we will pay dearly for our inaction.

For one thing, we need to take firm responsibility for ensuring the availability of good, decent housing,

  • Private rentals need to be maintained at a standard that is healthy for tenants. Having (some) private landlords pass-the-buck, and shove the cost of their inaction onto the public heathcare system (ie; the taxpayer) is unacceptable.
  • Government must build more State housing. Many low income families simply cannot afford private rents – the “market” has failed those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap. The State must step in and pay for new housing – or it will pay for increased health costs. One way or another, society will pay.
  • Government must implement a cross-Party action-plan to address this quietly, simmering crisis. Playing politics whilst Aotearoa burns (through rheumatic fever) is nothing less than criminal negligence. These people were elected to Parliament to work for the good of this country, and it’s time they sat down around a table and got down to some serious, constructive planning,

.

John Key

David Shearer

Winston Peters

Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

Pita Sharples – Tariana Turia

Hone Harawira

John Banks

Peter Dunne

.

John Key is paid $411,510 per annum. Cabinet Ministers are paid $257,800.  It’s time they started earning those very nice salaries, instead of  sitting on their hands and playing silly-buggers across the Debating Chamber.

I refuse to believe that we do not have the collective wit to address poverty in this country.

Because make no mistake; every time a child dies in New Zealand through preventable poverty-related disease, those who I hold  accountable are those who make grand pledges at  election time and promise all manner of good things to us, to win our votes.

I hold these people to account!!!

If, like me, you are feeling enough is enough, leave your thoughts on John Key’s Facebook page. (Don’t worry, the SIS won’t come after you.)

.

.

Petition opposing child poverty gains strength

12 February 2012 3 comments

.

Full Story

.

Support for Jazmine Heka’s petition is still growing  in the community, and shows no sign of fading. At a Market in the Hutt Valley, Karen  spent several hours collecting signatures for Jazmine’s petition,

.

.

Because of the nature of the petitions, the Organisor of the Market refused to accept any fee for hiring the table.

The three petitions called for

  • We request that the House of Representatives pass legislation to provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  • We request that the House of Representatives pass legislation to provide free healthcare  for all children including prescription costs
  • We request that the House of Representatives pass legislation to introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental houses

Karen said there was considerable support for the petitions, and said there was only one person who commented negatively about poor families.,

.

.

Karen had four food items on the table;  a packet of 750gm  “Pam’s” ‘weetbix’; 500gr ‘Budget Spirals’ dried pasta; a can of 420gr Watties of spaghatti; and 250gr Sanitarium “Marmite”. The four items came to around $10 from a supermarket.

She described the growing cost of food as hard for low-income families.

One person who signed the petitions agreed, and said that buying milk and bread to go with those four staples would  easily add another $5 to $7 to that purchase,

.

.

Another signature being added to the three petitions,

.

.

Karen later advised that she had collected approximately 70 signatures, and that some had requested blank copies to take away, to gather their own signatures.

.

***

.

Previous Blog post

Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

Additional

Radio NZ: Teenage child poverty activist (31 January 2012)

Girl with a mission

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Teen’s voice reaches MPs

Contact Jazmine

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140

.

.

Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

15 January 2012 5 comments

.

or,  good women!

.

One thing that I find about writing this Blog, is reporting on all the unpleasant things that are happening in our country; our communities; at this very moment. Whether it’s high unemployment; pollution in our rivers and coastline; constant attacks on welfare beneficiaries; racism; cutbacks in our social services; the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor; a rather nasty anti-union campaign on Auckland’s waterfront… after a while, I can fully understand why 100,000 of my fellow New Zealanders shipped off to Australia.

Half the time I wonder why I’m still here.

Nah, I ain’t going anywhere. It’s too hot over there; they have snakes; crocodiles; spiders the size of a small car; dinosaurs, mutant kangaroos, and god knows what else. Plus, they speak funny. (It’d take too long to teach our Aussie cuzzies  how to speak proper English – like we Kiwis do.)

Anyway, every so often, there is a ray of sunshine that pokes through the gloom of bad  news. Like this one, the story of Ms Jazmine Heka. She’s 16 years old. And she has more compassion and wisdom than half the adult population in this country. She certainly shows greater awareness than our current batch of political leaders.

Because Jazmine Heka, at age 16, and when other young women her age are out flirting with post-adolescent boys with acne and over-powered cars, is different.

Jazmine Heka cares.

.

Full Story

.

Full Story

.

Jazmine watched Bryan Bruce’s document, Inside Child Poverty – and came away disgusted; angry; and confused as to how something like this could be happening in our own country. And well she might; New Zealand was supposedly a wealthy country with an abundance of food and resources.

What has gone so terribly wrong?

Jazmine’s response to the documentary was perfectly normal. Any sane, compassionate,  person would have viewed Bruce’s documentary about our crisis in poverty, with similar feelings of outrage and disgust.

Those that viewed it – and simply shrugged it off  – did so because they have become inured to life’s hardships and uncertainties. For many of us, poverty and other social ills have become a normal aspect to everyday life. For many well-off, middle-class folk, poverty is “somewhere over there” and “beyond our ability to deal with“.

For many of us, we have “normalised” poverty; inequality; poor housing; lack of food; lack of adequate incomes; and lack of hope.

Those living in poverty live the same “train wreck” of their lives; day-after-day; week-after-week; their families; their community – and no hope of ever getting out. For these families, a life of poverty is also “normalised“.It’s all they’ve had and all they are likely to ever have.

Meanwhile,  products and images of products of a wealthy, consumerist society is all around these poverty-trapped families.

Eventually, those who suffer such hardship cannot cope any further with the constant stresses,  of their dismal lives. Some cease to care. Others lose themselves in anger, fueled by cheap, plentiful alcohol and drugs. Brutalised beyond any measure of comprehension by Middle New Zealand, they commit acts of self-harm and violence to others that the rest of us find inexplicable.

Try to explain to Middle New Zealand why a bunch of young people would torment an infant until it died from it’s injuries and internal bleeding – and you’d get a blank look.

Or, most likely, it is blamed upon the parent(s) and immediate family for abusing to death their child. Only then do we, as a society,  take an interest in that family, as they are put through the Court system; paraded on our television “news” each night; and we shake our collective heads in dismay and wonder what kind of “animal” kills it’s own young.

A stressed, abused, mal-treated “animal” – that’s what kind.

When things go terribly bad in poverty-stressed families, it is not the start of a crisis – it is the end-result; a culmination, of years of living in squalid conditions that few of us have ever experienced.

That is poverty. Or, at least, a visible part of it.

Most families, of course, don’t end up killing or bashing their children. As Jazmine quoted, 22% of children in New Zealand live in poverty. And most families do the best they can, with limited money, and constant demands for that money; rent, electricity, food, medical bills, school costs, transport…

Most families  survive. Even our Prime Minister grew up as a child to a solo-mother in  State House. Of course,  John Key not only had a state house over his head, but had the benefit of a free, tax-payer funded tertiary education.

That’s right folks. Mr Key went to University prior to 1992, before student fees were introduced. He may even have had access to a student allowanvce that was commonly accessible those  days. And his mother didn’t have to pay for prescription medicines – those were free, before Rogernomics came into play.

State house. Free education. Free prescription medicines.

That was all replaced with User Pays. National sold off about 13,000 state houses in the 1990s. And medical care became more and more expensive.

At the same time, taxes were cut seven times since 1986; gst was introduced; and User Pays and higher government charges made living more and more expensive for those on low incomes.

As the economy was de-regulated in the late 1980s, factories that had once employed locals to produce locally made goods closed down – and instead we had them produced and imported from China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Fiji, and other low-wage economies.

That’s called “exporting jobs”.

In return, we got cheap shoes from China – and growing poverty in New Zealand. Most unfair of all, it is children growing up in poor families that bear the brunt of our 27 year old free market economy.

Though that’s not to say there haven’t been success stories. For a few, anyway,

.

Full Story

.

It’s not hard to see who benefitted most from seven tax cuts in the last 26 years.

In turn, Fonterra plans to re-introduce milk in low-decile schools – something not seen in New Zealand since 1967. A return to school milk seems indicative where we have arrived as a nation: full circle since 1937, when free milk was first introduced in schools throughout the country to fight poverty’s effects on children.

And here we are – back again.

Even National was promising something similar,  in  February 2007, when John Key was Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps this was a political “stunt” – who knows,

.

Full Story

.

But it’s even more of a harsh reality now.

I’ve even emailed John Key, to ascertain what happened, to his “Food in Schools” programme,

.

from:    [email]
to:    Prime Minister John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
date:    Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM
subject:    National launches its Food in Schools programme

Sir,

On 4 February 2007, you released a Press Release headed, “National launches its Food in Schools programme”.

As outlined in Bryan Bruce’s document, “Child Poverty”, there is a growing problem of poorly fed, malnourished children in NZ.  Could you please advise what progress your government has made in the area of providing meals for children in low-decile schools?

This issue is a critical one. Poorly fed children do not do well in the classroom, and this results in difficulties further along in their lives, including social dislocation; poor education;  unemployment; and more expensive interaction with government services.

Thankyou for your time,

-Frank Macskasy
 Blogger, “Frankly Speaking

.

I’ve received an acknowledgement and that the email was passed on to Education Minister Hekia Parata. But nothing further.

This, to me, is why it is so important that good men and women like Bryan Bruce, Jazmine Heka, KidscanChild Poverty Action Group, etc,  raise our consciousness on these matters. These problems will not go away by themselves. They must be resolved with planning, determination, and  money.

But more importantly, Bryan Bruce and Jazmine Heka need our collective voices to aid them, and to back them up. Bryan and Jazmine and many others are working to fix a problem that should never have been allowed to grow and fester. But it’s here now, and we have to deal with it.

As Judy Callingham wrote on Brian Edwards’ blog,

.

The government has prioritised a number of policies to stimulate the economy in an effort to get us out of the current recession. None of these policies, to my mind, tackles head-on the most urgent task of all – eliminating ‘child poverty’.

This should be the number one priority. Nothing is more important. Nothing is going to stimulate the economy better in the long run than having our kids grow up healthy and well educated.  It’s a damn sight more important than ultra-fast broadband and super-highways.”

.

Or Jacqui, a mother in Otangarei,

.

I think it’s amazing what you’re doing. A lot of our people are disheartened, they’ve given up. The standard of living of people in New Zealand is shocking, people are struggling. It’s something the government needed to address a long time ago. If adults say it they think we’re just complaining, or it’s our own inadequacies. Her voice will get through, that’s the cool thing.

.

Last year, the combined raised voices of Wellingtonians stopped the Wellington Airport from erecting a silly sign on the Miramar hillside. (Instead, they erected a marginally less-silly sign.)

And the year before that, in 2010, the collective anger of New Zealanders stopped the National government dead-in-its-tracks to mine on Schedule 4 Conservation lands.

I believe that with the same support for Bryan, Jazmine, and other community groups fighting poverty, that this government can be made to pay attention to this problem.

I believe that, acting together, there is no reason  why we cannot achieve our common goal of beginning to solve this growing crisis in our communities. None whatsoever.

So let’s help Jazmine to help New Zealand.

.

.

.

***

.

Additional

National launches its Food in Schools programme (4 February 2007)

Milk and Honey off the menu

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Radio NZ: Teenage child poverty activist (31 January 2012)

Contact Jazmine

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140.

.

.