Poverty in New Zealand
New Zealand is a lush island country in the Pacific Ocean. It comprises of two main islands; the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu) in addition to about 600 smaller island landmasses. With a total population of approximately 5 million people, it is not the most populous of countries, but New Zealand has garnered worldwide recognition as a tourist destination. This is partly due to its stunning ocean views, rolling green hills and jagged mountainsides. In fact, New Zealand is a sought-after location for film, with popular movies like “the Lord of the Rings” showcasing the natural beauty of the area. However, such an idyllic and prosperous country has a darker underbelly. Poverty exists in New Zealand despite it being a developed country.

The Facts

One can define poverty in New Zealand as living in a household that makes 60% less than the average, taking housing costs into consideration. In New Zealand, massive economic restructuring beginning in the 1980s has resulted in prosperity for some, and poverty for others. In 1984, the national poverty rate was 9%. Comparatively, in 2016, the poverty rate was 15%. This represents a decrease from the peak poverty rate of 22% in 2004 but still remains significantly higher than before the mid-1980s, as a direct result of economic change including hard hits during the 2008 recession. Today, about one in seven households experience poverty, with one in five reporting that they do not have access to food or healthy food due to a lack of money according to The National Children’s Nutrition Survey. This means that around 290,000 children (or 27%) were living in poverty in 2017.

When people do not have access to financial and emotional resources, their health is more likely to suffer. New Zealand shows this as children experiencing poverty are more than twice as likely to visit the hospital than those who are not. They are also far more likely to experience health consequences like heart disease, obesity and addiction. These problems often follow children into adulthood, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Who is Most Affected?

There is an inequitable distribution of poverty in New Zealand, with Pacific Peoples and other indigenous groups like the Māori and Pakeha peoples experiencing higher levels of poverty than other people. A shocking 40% of Pacific Peoples have an income below the poverty line, with Māori coming in second with nearly one-third of their population experiencing poverty. Additionally, children are harder-hit than other groups. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child abuse in the developed world.

According to UNICEF, a child dies every five weeks due to violence. Experiencing or seeing violence as a child can lead to negative long-term effects like drug-use, early pregnancy, anxiety and mental disorders and can compound the effects of poverty into adulthood. It is important to reduce childhood poverty rates because statistics have shown that where poverty rates drop, birthrates decrease as well.

Families that are living in poverty need to spend their time and energy on survival, and by necessity spend less time on things like education, emotional health and community. This creates a cycle of more people living in poverty, making the problem bigger over time. If more people come out of poverty now, fewer people will continue to live in poverty in the future. Preventing the inequitable effects of poverty on certain populations is vital in increasing the standard of living for many people and children across New Zealand, especially native populations.

Steps to Fix the Problem

By 2030, New Zealand aims to decrease the number of children living in poverty by half. This is part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some policies that the government of New Zealand implemented include tax breaks and affordable housing strategies, as housing costs are a huge reason many residents struggle to pay the bills. New legislation has emerged, including the Child Poverty Reduction and Wellbeing act. This passed in 2018 and outlines a detailed, 10-year strategy that includes measures like extending parental leave to 26 weeks, providing increased resources for abuse victims, increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour by 2021, and expanding parenting support resources. Over the past 10 years, New Zealand has reduced poverty rates and with new, aggressive legislation, should see a boost in those numbers as time goes on.

– Noelle Nelson
Photo: Flickr

Global Food SecurityThe global population has been growing exponentially in the last few decades as compared to earlier times in human history, given that 42% of the population is under the age of 25. With a rapidly growing population, global food security is threatened and it is expected that without major agricultural enhancement, there will not be enough food for future generations. By 2050, crop production must grow by 60-100% from 2005 levels in order to avoid this fate.

Youth hold the future of the global food system in their hands. There are many young people working to combat the global food security crisis in a way that puts sights on the future, not the present. Through scientific innovations, advocacy and more, these young men and women not only give hope for a world with less hunger but also vehemently encourage others to join them. Some examples of their work follow. 

Kiranjit Kaur: Kisan Mazdoor Khudkushi Peedit Parivar Committee

Kiranjit Kaur of India, a 23-year-old political science postgraduate student from Punjab state, is a pioneer in the fight against farmer suicide. Losing her own father to suicide spurred her to focus on community engagement to address the statistics of over 16,000 farmer suicides in India each year. With 39% of the employed population working in agriculture, success is important for the health and well-being of farming families.

Punjab was an agricultural haven during the Green Revolution, but since the 1990s, with increased land productivity and the cost of agriculture, loans have become a norm and financial stress has increased. Kaur motivates the women in her community to participate in a social campaign that focuses on mental health, mutual support and activism. As for now, she spends most of her time working with the group but plans to do a Ph.D. on farmer suicide in the future.

Craig Piggott: Halter

A New Zealand native, Craig Piggott dedicates his talents to agricultural innovations in herding and tracking cows. His invention involves a GPS-enabled and solar-powered collar for cows, Halter, which enables farmers to herd the animals remotely; using sounds and vibrations to both direct the cows and alert the farmers of any issues. Piggott developed the app through three years of testing, and a few dairy farmers in Waikato are eager to implement the technology within their own herds. With more testing and exposure, he hopes to extend the program nationally to aid New Zealand’s agricultural field.

This innovative app will save time and resources by decreasing the farmer’s workload and using grazing grass more efficiently, thanks to the virtual fences. Piggott’s company was founded in 2016 when he was 22-years-old and has grown to a current team of more than 40 scientists, engineers and other professionals.

Sophie Healy-Thow: Scaling Up Nutrition

Sophie Healy-Thow, a 20-year-old Irish college student, is a prominent European name in the rural development advocacy and global food security spaces. She and her team’s natural bacteria project won the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2013, and she was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Teens. Healy-Thow also speaks out about calling leaders to action, and hopes for a time when young people are listened to and engaged instead of just getting a pat on the head.

Today she speaks at the U.N. conventions and TED talks and is part of a team developing a Kenyan project called Agrikua, which focuses on encouraging women’s involvement in agriculture, providing education and other support. After university, she plans to work for a charitable organization that helps women, inspired by her current involvement in ActionAid U.K.

Jefferson Kang’acha: The Eden Horticultural Club

Food security is not a new issue in 19-year-old Jefferson Kang’acha’s life in Kenya, and he works to grow tomatoes in order to protect the staple ingredient of many Kenyan households. Due to declining yields, the price of tomatoes has spiked to high prices that most Kenyan families cannot afford. In response, Kang’acha developed the hydroponic production of tomatoes, which grows the plants with no soil and in a controlled climate.

By founding the Eden Horticultural Club, he is able to provide tomatoes to his community, including schools and hospitals in the area. In the first few months alone, he was able to distribute 2.5 tons of tomatoes to more than 100 households. He hopes to one day use this process to assist global food security throughout Africa and beyond.

The Future of Global Food Security

The future of the agriculture industry is hard to predict, but the U.N. encourages youth participation and innovation to solve the problem. Goal 2 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Vast problems require bold solutions, and these four young people are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovators doing their part to protect global food security.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Pixabay

positive covid-19 storiesThe COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the world. While many countries have been devastated, three countries have positive COVID-19 stories: New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. Here are their positive COVID-19 stories and the lessons they learned from their experiences.

New Zealand

The pacific island nation of around 5 million people had a couple of different strategies in its response to COVID-19. In particular, unity within New Zealand and the nation’s neighboring countries played a big role in the country’s success against the virus. New Zealand offered to help its neighboring countries to prepare for the pandemic. To do so, the country offered health training and made sure that its island neighbors had supplies to fight the virus. Importantly, this unity in New Zealand bridged across political party lines when needed. This resulted in a massive stimulus package passed just weeks after the country’s first case. The stimulus totaled NZ$12.1 billion, around 4% of the country’s GDP. Included in the stimulus package is support for businesses, support for testing and health services and payments to those who couldn’t work because of the virus.

Caution also plays a big part in New Zealand’s success against the virus. The first case of the virus was detected on 28 Feb. 2020. Even before that, however, the government took measures to limit the possible damage of COVID-19. When New Zealand only had 283 cases, the government ordered all non-essential workers to work from home to limit the virus’s spread.

Moreover, the government came up with a four-level alert system to help people know how the virus is spreading. Level one means the disease is contained in New Zealand and level four means community transmission is happening and the disease is not contained. Given how much time the country has spent in the lower levels, its represents one of many positive COVID-19 stories that the whole world can learn from.

Thailand

Thailand is one of the countries that have positive COVID-19 stories. The Asian country of almost 70 million people was designated a success by the WHO. The economy of Thailand is one that is heavily built on tourism, with one-fifth of GDP coming from the tourist sector. However, since the virus has spread, the government of Thailand has had to make economic sacrifices to protect public health. The country had to close its borders to certain travelers, including many Chinese provinces. In addition, Thailand postponed many sporting events and held them without fans to slow the spread of the virus. In particular, Bangkok was in a partial lockdown with only essential services remaining open. Slowing down activity does hurt the economy, but it eases the blow of the virus.

Thailand has also mobilized more than 1 million health volunteers to help respond to the virus. In addition, the government’s health officials have taken the side of precaution throughout the pandemic. This includes rigorous hygiene and wearing face masks at all times. Moreover, Thai people have generally followed the advice of medical professionals, which has contributed to the Thailand’s COVID-19 success story. The Thai government also has one centralized administration, which helped with communication and organization throughout the pandemic.

Vietnam

Vietnam is also among countries with positive COVID-19 stories. Vietnam’s actions to deal with the virus came early and were aggressive, taking place before the virus even entered the country. This early and decisive action is one of the measures that helped Vietnam early on and controlled the virus’s spread. In early January 2020, Vietnam was already preparing for drastic action before there was a recorded case in the country.

Vietnam enacted travel restrictions, closed schools and enacted a rigorous contact and tracing system, while also canceling public events. Governmental communication was upfront and transparent. Consequently, this helped with public compliance to slow the virus outbreak. Vietnam has been one of the best countries in regard to wearing a face mask, which helps slow the spread of the virus. A coordinated media effort throughout Vietnam has also helped the public and government be on the same page in response to the virus.

Another reason Vietnam has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is its testing. The country tests everyone in quarantine whether they have symptoms or not. This helps slow the spread of the virus, because not everyone who is infected shows symptoms. As a result, younger people who may be infected but don’t have symptoms don’t infect those who may be at higher risk of death to COVID-19. While there was no nationwide lockdown, Vietnam did impose containment on certain areas to reduce the spread of the virus. In February 2020, when a small handful of cases were in the area of Son Loi, the government sealed off the area to prevent the spread of the virus.

What We Can Learn from These Countries

These three countries show positive COVID-19 stories despite a situation that has turned negative in so many countries. A few similarities have emerged between the countries and their success. One is the unity between government and people, which is important to building communication and trust. When citizens trust their government and can easily access clear guidelines, they are more likely to comply with health measures to reduce the spread of the virus. Another similarity between these countries is that it’s better to be cautious rather than reckless. This helps to slow the spread of the virus and make it easier to track. With all the hardship and destruction brought on by COVID-19, these countries with positive COVID-19 stories show how to keep as many people as safe as possible.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Pexels

healthcare in tokelauThe dependent territory of New Zealand, Tokelau, lies in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of three atolls, or islands made up of coral: Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. Tokelau has the world’s smallest economy, with an annual GDP per capita of $6,275 and a population of only 1,500 people. A lack of human resources and considerable financial constraints severely limit the Department of Health in Tokelau in addressing the population’s healthcare needs. Here are seven facts about healthcare in Tokelau.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Tokelau

  1. Population health: Tokelau’s central health issues are non-communicable diseases (NCDs), especially cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. From 2007 to 2010, cardiovascular diseases in Tokelau had a mortality rate of 17%. Aside from viruses, other principal causes of death in Tokelau include old age, neoplasms (unusual growth of body tissue) and accidental death, often the result of trauma. Because of minimal amounts of physical activity, about 75% of Tokelauns are obese, and close to 50% of Tokelauans smoke daily.
  2. Hospital access: Each of the three atolls has one hospital. Every hospital has some medical and diagnostic equipment available for use, along with 12 beds. However, the hospitals lack some basic technology, like x-ray machines.
  3. Lack of healthcare workers: As of October 2012, there were only 37 healthcare workers across all three atolls. Each hospital has one medical officer, four to five nurses, four to five nurses’ aides and a porter. Healthcare in Tokelau suffers from a lack of doctors and specialized professionals in particular.
  4. Lack of secondary and tertiary care: While the three hospitals can provide some level of care for their patients, they cannot afford specialized employees and more intensive treatment. NCDs, the primary healthcare needs faced by Tokelauans, require intensive care. Currently, patients requiring such services go offshore to either Samoa or, in more critical cases, New Zealand.
  5. Funding: A combination of grant money from New Zealand, local revenue and international aid funds healthcare in Tokelau. However, the budget for healthcare is insufficient. Tokelau relies on aid from international organizations because it still lacks the means to invest in healthcare infrastructure on a large scale.
  6. Lack of transportation: Healthcare in Tokelau also lacks an inter-atoll transportation system. This creates a decentralized hospital system, with three separate hospitals. Climate change and natural disasters further strain healthcare in Tokelau.
  7. High life expectancy: Despite its unique challenges, Tokelau has worked to improve its healthcare system. Tokelauans have a reasonably high life expectancy rate compared to other countries in the Pacific region. In addition, Tokelau does not have high maternal or infant mortality rates.

Tokelau Health Strategic Plan 2016-2020

In August 2016, Tokelau launched a new initiative to better its healthcare infrastructure, called the Tokelau Health Strategic Plan. This plan has three parts: short-term goals in 2016 to 2018, intermediate goals from 2018 to 2020, and long-term goals for 2020 and beyond. Furthermore, Tokelau’s healthcare plan has created four key ideas to help guide the country’s healthcare initiatives. These ideas are developing healthcare infrastructure, improving general public health, improving governance of healthcare services and creating better clinical services for the island’s population.

The most important aspect of the plan is the construction of a National Referral Hospital in Nukunonu, the largest of the three atolls. With the creation of the new National Referral Hospital, Tokelau would be able to alleviate the issues caused by its decentralized healthcare system.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been working in conjunction with the Tokelau government to see this plan through. WHO outlined these priorities to oversee the advancement of Tokelau’s healthcare:

  1. Monitor the healthcare situation in Tokelau and develop strategies that would work in tandem with Tokelau’s healthcare strategies.
  2. Monitor NCDs, improve treatment regulations and care for patients and increase access to medication.
  3. Develop healthcare infrastructure to minimize tobacco use in Tokelau and implement strategies to strengthen immunization.

Tokelau faces many challenges ahead as it looks to improve its healthcare system. The majority of these challenges come from a lack of economic means and a decentralized healthcare system. However, with international aid and the healthcare plan, the government can work to improve healthcare for all of its citizens’ benefit.

Anushka Somani
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in New Zealand
New Zealand is a small island country situated just southeast of Australia. Its healthcare system is known as one of the best in the world. While there are still improvements to be made, the government of New Zealand has worked to make healthcare affordable and accessible. Here are ten facts about healthcare in New Zealand.

10 Facts About Healthcare in New Zealand

  1. The national government runs New Zealand’s universal healthcare system. This means the government handles the public healthcare system from its budget to the agency that oversees it. This allows healthcare to be free to access, as it is funded publicly through taxes and by the national government. However, the government does not handle the responsibilities for providing health services, leaving this up to regional and private healthcare centers in the system.
  2. New Zealand’s average life expectancy is about 82 years. The nation ranks 15th in the world for highest life expectancy rates. New Zealand’s healthcare system has contributed to the high life expectancy and the country is striving to increase life expectancy even further.
  3. Healthcare in New Zealand is not completely centralized. Instead, it is a mixture of both public and private. However, universal healthcare still exists in the form of public funding. The government provides a universal healthcare package for all residents. If a New Zealander wishes for more benefits or wishes to have non-essential services such as cosmetic surgery, then they must pay for these services themselves.
  4. Compared to most developed countries, healthcare in New Zealand receives more government funding than private funding. Most of the funding comes from taxation. This ensures that the taxes New Zealanders pay is put towards their healthcare services.
  5. The government also provides financial compensation for injuries. The Accidental Compensation Corporation (ACC) is a government agency that works with the national government to provide financial compensation for injuries during work and other events. Because of this, health services for injuries are often free of cost.
  6. Drugs and medicine are not provided by the state under the healthcare system. Instead, private pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies provide medicine to individuals via prescription or over the counter.
  7. Private health insurance is still available in New Zealand. However it only compensates for 5% of health insurance. Nonprofit and for profit non-government organizations offer private health insurance, which is mainly used for elective surgery or to cover cost sharing requirements.
  8. Mental health, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are the main health concerns in New Zealand. However, the number of physicians, nurses, specialists and dentists are steadily increasing in the country. Moving forward, this could help the nation more effectively tackle these persistent health concerns.
  9. One problem New Zealand faces is a decrease in hospital bed availability. Although New Zealand’s healthcare system is seen as very effective, there are some problems. One of these is the decreasing number of available hospital beds in the country. Although the reason for this is that many elderly patients are shifting to nursing homes and senior centers, this could be a problem in the future especially if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a significant concern.
  10. Inequality is also an issue in New Zealand’s healthcare system. Although the healthcare system is effective overall, the indigenous Maori do not have the same access to healthcare as the other residents of New Zealand. This inequality often prevents the Maori from receiving the same care and treatment.

New Zealand has a very effective healthcare system that is able to treat many diseases. However healthcare in New Zealand can still be improved, the most pressing issue to address being inequality. Moving forward, it is imperative that the government of New Zealand continue to support universal healthcare and expand its availability to everyone living in the country.

– Sadat Tashin
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in New Zealand
New Zealand is a high-income country located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. In 2019, New Zealand’s GDP per capita was $42,084, a number almost identical to the United Kingdom’s GDP per capita. Despite this high level of wealth, an increasing number of New Zealanders are facing homelessness. New Zealand’s definition of homelessness includes people living in temporary residences or uninhabitable conditions, those sharing a residence with another household and those sleeping in cars or on the streets.

10 Facts About Homelessness in New Zealand

  1. About 1% of New Zealanders are homeless. New Zealand’s homelessness rate is the highest among the 35 high-income countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). It is important to note, however, that New Zealand’s definition of homelessness, as explained above, is much broader than many other nations. Those living on the streets face additional dangers, especially as it gets colder. As a result, many homeless New Zealanders have died on the streets during recent winters.
  2. The recent housing crisis has contributed to the high rate of homelessness in New Zealand. The price of renting or buying a home in New Zealand has been on the rise in recent years. For instance, in the country’s largest city, Auckland, housing prices climbed 90% from 2008 to 2018. In January 2020, the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey examined eight housing markets in New Zealand, and ranked them all as “severely unaffordable.” Due to these increasing prices, many find themselves unable to afford a permanent home, even if they have employment.
  3. Applications for public housing increased by 47% from 2019 to 2020. According to a report by New Zealand’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, 11,607 people applied for government-provided public housing in the first quarter of 2019. One year later, that number jumped to 16,309. As this number continues to grow, more New Zealanders are unable to find a stable residence.
  4. The Auckland region had the highest number of housing applicants. As of March 2020, 6,086 Auckland residents were on the housing register, awaiting a response to their request for public housing. The Wellington region, which includes the country’s capital, had the second-highest number of housing applicants.
  5. Housing applicants faced long wait times for public housing. On average, a housing applicant waited for public housing 213 days in March 2020. This wait time represented an increase from the previous year, where the average time was only 172 days.
  6. A disproportionate number of housing applicants were of Maori ethnicity. In March 2020, 48% of housing applicants identified themselves as Maori, the indigenous people of mainland New Zealand. This number is significant considering that only 16.5% of the general population are considered of Maori descent according to the 2018 census. Therefore, the Maori people are disproportionately likely to be homeless.
  7. The New Zealand government has been aware of the country’s problem with homelessness. In 2017, Jacinda Ardern became the prime minister of New Zealand. Despite her promise to address the issue once in office, homelessness in New Zealand has increased under her leadership. Additionally, the number of people applying for public housing has broken previously high records.
  8. In 2020, the government launched the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan. The plan strives to both reduce and prevent homelessness in New Zealand and will continue through 2023. The government hopes to support over 10,000 people who are either at risk or already homeless. The Homelessness Action Plan is an important step forward in the government’s fight against homelessness. Though the plan may not aid New Zealand’s entire homeless population, it can help a great majority.
  9. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Zealand, the government worked to provide shelter to those living on the streets. As New Zealand’s national lockdown began, the government opened motel rooms to homeless New Zealanders who had previously been living on the streets. The government made this decision in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, as a result, it has also virtually eliminated the cities’ problem of “rough sleeping,” or homeless people sleeping or living outdoors.
  10. Moving forward, the government plans to provide for many of the country’s homeless. After the national lockdown ends, what will happen to the New Zealanders who had been living on the streets? The government has pledged to ensure that 1,200 motel rooms remain available for homeless New Zealanders until April 2021. There are many other homeless New Zealanders not in this category, and the government seems to be looking out for them as well. The May 2020 federal budget included plans to construct 8,000 new public housing places. With luck, these new construction projects will help housing applicants find a home.

Only time will tell how homelessness in New Zealand may change as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. The hope is that the government’s recent actions will provide protection to those living on the streets, while also preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The government’s construction plans also have the potential to provide housing to many homeless New Zealanders, securing a brighter future for both the individuals and the country.

 – Emily Dexter
Photo: Unsplash

Food Insecurity in New Zealand
New Zealand, an island country located in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, is home to a population of about 4.8 million people and comprises of nearly 600 islands. In 2019, New Zealand received the rank of one of the world’s richest countries, ranking fifth after Switzerland, Hong Kong, the United States and Australia. Despite its status as a rich country, New Zealand still has hidden issues with poverty, food insecurity and hunger.

Hunger and Poverty in New Zealand

Nearly one in five children in New Zealand are living in “relative poverty,” according to a report done by Stats NZ in June 2019. This number rises to one in four in the case of the Māori population (New Zealand’s indigenous people). Though it is a relatively wealthy country, many New Zealanders live with food insecurity. Defined as a lack of access to healthy and nutritious food, food insecurity has negative effects on families, children, health and even mental health.

New Zealand’s Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) estimated that the weekly cost to feed a person ranges from 29 to 74 NZD (depending on age and sex). For a family of four, that means food costs can average over $400 NZD a month on top of other costs like utilities, rent, clothing and education. According to CPAG, about 7% of New Zealanders experienced severe food insecurity in 2008/2009, and 3% — one-third of New Zealanders — experienced moderate food insecurity. The implications of this, even when dealing with moderate food insecurity, were large. CPAG reported on families struggling to feed their children, often opting for unhealthy food because it was cheapest, going through garbage to salvage food or forgoing food altogether to make sure their children did not go hungry.

COVID-19’s Impact

Food insecurity, fortunately, has reduced to about 10% of New Zealanders in 2019. But with the outbreak of COVID-19, the Auckland City Mission estimated that that number had rocketed to 20%. Between citizens losing jobs, panic-buying at grocery stores and other factors, the pandemic is threatening more widespread food insecurity in New Zealand. Emergency food assistance services have seen large spikes in demand. Additionally, many essential workers may be working full-time but are still not making enough to put food on the table.

Though it expects the winter months (June through August) to be harder on families, especially with the pandemic, Auckland City Mission was able to provide emergency food to over 23,000 families and individuals who were “in desperate need” over the last financial year. Additionally, when New Zealand released its 2020 budget in May 2020, Auckland City Mission released a statement noting that its social services support package meant the mission could help even more families who are facing food insecurity this winter.

The Future of Food Security

Food insecurity in New Zealand remains an important problem. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, these problems are becoming harder to ignore. Recently, CPAG released a paper about its ideas to solve food insecurity for New Zealand’s youth, including food programs in schools. It showed that with awareness and advocacy, people can begin to find solutions to these problems. In fact, the 2020 budget plans to expand an existing school lunch program to ensure that by the end of 2021, 200,000 students will receive a healthy lunch every day at school, up from the 8,000 currently receiving aid from the program. This sort of increase is a promising step to reducing the amount of food insecurity for New Zealand’s children.

Additionally, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Auckland City Mission has gone from supporting 450 families to over 1,200 and expect that number to stay high throughout the winter. Thanks to the 2020 New Zealand budget, Auckland City Mission will be able to continue helping those in need.

It is an unprecedented time for food insecurity in New Zealand, especially on top of existing challenges lower-income families have been facing. However, with help from the government and organizations like Auckland City Mission, the country is beginning to put more focus on providing food to those who need it most.

Sophie Grieser
Photo: Pixabay

Childhood Poverty in New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern was born on July 26, 1980, in Hamilton, New Zealand, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of more than 4 million people. In 2017, at the age of 37, she became the third female leader of New Zealand. She is the youngest Prime Minister of the country in 150 years and the second world leader to have a baby while in office. She is a global icon in many regards but lacks publicity for her work in fighting childhood poverty in New Zealand. This article will explore her success in passing and implementing recent poverty-reduction policies, including those during COVID-19.

Families Package

According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern herself, one of her proudest achievements as Prime Minister is implementing the Families Package on July 1, 2018. The goal of this package is to provide families with more money to support their children. It aims to reduce childhood poverty in New Zealand while redirecting $2 billion to health, education and housing.

As of 2019, one year after the Families Package came into effect, it has helped 1 million New Zealanders. The package increases maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks to 26 weeks. Additionally, it has provided $67NZ to over 36,000 families with newborns for the first three years of the child’s life. Additionally, the Families Package has increased financial aid to more than 13,500 families who care for orphans and foster children as well as enabled more than 1 million elderly to heat their homes during the winter with the Winter Energy Payment.

Well-Being Budget

New Zealand’s Well-Being Budget emerged in 2019 to reduce homelessness and childhood poverty in New Zealand, expand mental health services, combat family violence and protect and advance the rights of indigenous populations.

It added an additional $40 million to suicide prevention assistance and $455 million to mental health services. Expectations determine that this will help 324,000 New Zealanders by 2023 and 2024. This package will also benefit 2,700 homeless people by creating 1,044 shelters. It will also increase funding for education and hospital research. It prioritizes the preservation of Māori and Pacific languages and the fight against illnesses such as rheumatic fever as well.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network tested the success of the Well-Being Budget. Citizens rated their happiness on a scale of one to 10, with one being the least happy and 10 the happiest. This scale found that New Zealand had the eighth happiest population in the world whereas the U.S. ranked 19. This speaks to the positive impact of New Zealand’s Well-Being Budget on the quality of life within the country.

Stimulus Package

In light of COVID-19, New Zealand’s government launched a stimulus package similar to many other countries. The difference is that New Zealand’s stimulus package is greater than Great Britain, Australia, Singapore, Ireland and several other countries as it represents 4% of the country’s total GDP. This stimulus package covers incomes for people who cannot work from home. It allows them to take care of a sick relative or self-isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19. It also helps businesses in terms of taxes and provides more social welfare and income to low-income families. The package also includes funding for the healthcare industry to ensure a timely and appropriate response to the virus. Not only does this stimulus package indirectly help children, but it is undoubtedly a contributing factor as to why New Zealand was able to eradicate the virus completely from its country.

These initiatives demonstrate the progress under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the fight against childhood poverty. Though the reality of COVID-19 hinders this, many agree that others can learn from Jacinda Ardern and her administrative action.

– Rida Memon
Photo: Flickr

New Zealand Green Party
The New Zealand Green Party believes that protecting the planet and its inhabitants are two sides of the same coin. Green Party members hold eight seats in the federal government and are also represented in 42 local governments. Ahead of the 2020 elections in New Zealand, the Green Party has announced they are running 24 candidates for various seats within the federal government. According to the party’s website, the Green Party believes that New Zealand’s government must take further action to “protect our planet and make sure everyone is treated equally and has access to what they need to live a good life.” The party also announced an unconventional plan to reduce poverty in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Poverty Action Plan

While New Zealand is typically considered a prosperous nation, approximately 14% of New Zealanders live in poverty. Some calculate this figure (poverty) based on the median household income, since there is no official national poverty line. As of 2016, researchers consider households with two adults and two children to be living below the poverty line if they are earning less than $390 (New Zealand dollars) per week. Additionally, single parent, single child households making less than $250 (N.Z. dollars) per week fall into the same category. The New Zealand Green Party has announced a poverty reduction plan centered around wealth taxes and a guaranteed minimum income. The plan, according to the party’s website, intends to “completely change the way [the government] support[s] people in New Zealand so when people ask for help, they get it.”

Poverty Action Plan Design

The party’s Poverty Action Plan is built on the following eight points, each of which is designed to fix what the party has called the country’s broken welfare system:

  1. Guaranteed Minimum Income: All New Zealanders who do not work a full-time job, including students, are provided with a small, guaranteed weekly income that assists those living below the poverty line and those living paycheck-to-paycheck.
  2. Universal Child Benefit: Families with children under three-years-old are supplied with a small, weekly payment of $65 (N.Z. dollars).
  3. Family Support Credit: Family Support Credit is a simplified version of New Zealand’s existing Working for Families tax credit system. It would provide weekly payments for families based on the number of children they have.
  4. Financial Support for Single Parents: Single parents receive additional financial support in addition to the Family Support Credit.
  5. Reforming the Accident Compensation Corporation: Improve compensation for work-impairing health conditions and disabilities to be fairer and more equitable.
  6. Wealth Taxes: All New Zealanders with a net worth over $1 million (N.Z. dollars) will be subject to a 1% wealth tax.
  7. Progressive Tax System: Redefine tax brackets to redistribute wealth among New Zealanders.
  8. Tax Brackets: Redistribute wealth using the addition of two new top income tax brackets.

The New Zealand Green Party leader, Marama Davidson, believes the country’s current welfare system is “outdated, unfair and unlivable.” Davidson hopes her party’s ambitious new plan will help struggling New Zealanders. While New Zealand does not suffer from extreme poverty, there is still room for improvement. The Green Party hopes to be a catalyst for this change through its new Poverty Action Plan.

Jessie Cohen
Photo: Unsplash

Indigenous Healthcare in New Zealand
New Zealand has a large population of indigenous people. According to New Zealand’s 2013 Census, 15% of the population are Māori (indigenous New Zealanders), and 7% of the population are Pacific Islanders. Of the five million people who live in New Zealand, 894,546 people identify as Māori or as a Pacific Islander.

New Zealand is recognized around the world for its efforts toward indigenous relations. New Zealand first established a treaty with the Māori people in 1840, to which, over time, all indigenous and Pacific Islander communities have agreed. The treaty outlines that all Māori and Pacific Islander people are to have equal rights and opportunities across New Zealand. It has also allowed New Zealand to provide extensive healthcare to all indigenous people across the country. However, there are persisting health discrepancies between indigenous and non-indigenous New Zealanders.

Indigenous Health Challenges in New Zealand

In 2012, New Zealand reported that across the country, indigenous children aged zero to 15 years old were considered to be in overall good health. The discrepancy in overall health between indigenous and non-indigenous people came to light in adulthood. For instance, Māori and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of diabetes and obesity when compared to non-indigenous New Zealanders, with 44% of Māori people reportedly suffering from obesity.

Another health challenge for indigenous people in New Zealand is the heightened rate of smoking. Māori adults are 2.7 times more likely to smoke than non-indigenous New Zealanders. Additionally, 24% of the Pacific Islander population in New Zealanders are smokers. This is two times higher than the national smoking rate of 12%. The Smoke-Free Organization of New Zealand also reports that adults who smoke are more likely to have poor mental health.

A 2018 health survey found that indigenous people are more likely to experience psychological distress and be diagnosed with a mental health disorder than non-indigenous citizens. It is estimated that around 50% of the Māori population will experience a mental health disorder throughout their lifetimes. Of this 50%, only half will seek professional attention concerning their mental condition. By comparison, non-indigenous people are 25% more likely to receive professional attention for mental disorders than indigenous New Zealanders.

Access to Indigenous Healthcare in New Zealand

There is currently a challenge when it comes to healthcare accessibility for indigenous people in New Zealand. The government reported that only 61% of indigenous patients had their primary healthcare needs fulfilled in 2012. This highlights a large portion of the indigenous population that does not have sufficient access to primary healthcare. For example, many indigenous New Zealanders encounter barriers when seeking after-hours healthcare. In 2012, of the indigenous adults who needed after-hours medical attention, 14% were deterred due to the cost of care.

Indigenous Healthcare Initiatives

Improving indigenous healthcare has been a major focus for the local government. The New Zealand government emphasizes the importance of having accessible Māori health providers. These healthcare providers were first established in 1991 with the aim of increasing the accessibility of healthcare to indigenous people. Māori healthcare providers ensure that patients receive quality primary care with a focus on cultural relations and communication between the government and the local indigenous community.

Another initiative being established to improve indigenous healthcare in New Zealand is the cultural safety education training provided to nurses and midwives. This training places emphasis on the fact that healthcare professionals play a role in a healthcare system with obstacles and barriers that inhibit people from accessing healthcare. The training also ensures that professionals consider the cultural, historical and political context of each patient when providing care.

 

Overall, indigenous healthcare in New Zealand is of a fairly high quality. Despite having some health discrepancies, the New Zealand government has promptly established initiatives to target and improve the health situation for Māori and Pacific Islander people. Countries such as Australia and Canada are currently modeling their own indigenous healthcare initiatives on New Zealand’s due to the success of indigenous healthcare in New Zealand.

– Laura Embry

Photo: Flickr