five beauty brandsIn today’s world, it can be difficult to decide which beauty product is just right when there are so many to choose from. Factors like cost, brand or online reviews are usually valued as the most important. In an effort to stand out and make a difference, beauty companies around the world are now donating proceeds from profits to charities and foundations of their choice. Next time the urge hits to splurge on a new moisturizer or lipstick, why not splurge for a cause? Here are five beauty brands giving back to keep on the radar in 2019.

Five Beauty Brands Giving Back

  1. INDIGO & IRIS: Based in New Zealand, Indigo & Iris is the brainchild of two best friends committed to all-things-beauty and preventing avoidable blindness. Indigo & Iris donates 50 percent of its profit directly to the Fred Hollows Foundation, which aims to address and end avoidable blindness in impoverished populations around the world. In developing countries, the absence of healthcare for eye-related diseases leads to 4 in 5 people going blind when the problem could be medically treated. Indigo & Iris’s breakout product is their mascara, Levitate, which is vegan, cruelty-free and receives high marks from online beauty and style publications such as Allure and PopSugar.
  2. SCHMIDT’S NATURALS: Looking for a fresh scent? It may be time for a new deodorant or soap. Schmidt’s Naturals is a sustainable, Portland-based manufacturer that crafts their formulas with soothing plants and minerals that are free of chemicals or harsh additives. The newest collection, Lily of the Valley, showcases a body wash and deodorant that were concocted with Jane Goodall’s favorite aromas in mind. And if having a Jane Goodall inspired body wash isn’t cool enough, 5 percent of all profits from these products go directly toward global environmental conservation efforts and the protection of wild animals through the Jane Goodall Institute.
  3. MDNA SKIN: Pop and humanitarian icon, Madonna’s nonprofit, Raising Malawi, is instrumental in providing free access to education and health for nearly 10,000 children as of 2018. Madonna’s skincare brand, MDNA Skin, donates a portion of the proceeds from her Reinvention Cream to the initiatives of Raising Malawi, which include the construction of brand new schools in the Kasungu province of Malawi. MDNA skin features a wide selection, including a chrome clay mask, a refreshing rose mist and a facial rollerball to ease away any and all kinks from the day. Lay back and relax knowing that a portion of the revenue from some of these products helps to create educational and economic opportunities for the current and future generations of Malawi.
  4. MARULA BEAUTY: As the brand’s name would suggest, Marula Beauty specializes in skin and hair care products infused with marula oil. Marula oil is especially beneficial for skin as the oil contains antioxidant and hydration properties that reduce fine lines, enhance overall complexion and act as antimicrobials. What makes this beauty brand unique is their dedication to working directly with women in African villages where there are Marula trees. Marula Beauty offers employment and fair wages to these women as they tend to and harvest the Marula trees until the oil is ready to be extracted. In this way, Marula Beauty honors the connection African communities hold to their land while offering compensation in exchange for the Marula trees’ potential, definitely earning Marula Beauty a spot on this list of five beauty brands giving back.
  5. NU SKIN: Nu Skin is a globally established company that develops and distributes skincare and dietary supplements as well as other health-related products. Whether it be the search for a rejuvenating beauty mask or lavender essential oil, Nu Skin has an array of selections and a diverse price range. The nonprofit behind the company, the Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation, utilizes a large amount of revenue from Nu Skin to fund grant projects including the School of Agriculture for Family Independence in Malawi. The school trains attendees in subjects such as sustainable agriculture, animal husbandry and forest conservation while sending their children to primary school for free. The foundation has also established the Greater China Children’s Heart Fund in response to the fact that two out of three children in China with pediatric congenital heart disease are unable to receive treatment due to cost. Money allocated for the grant goes toward covering medical and surgical expenses entirely.

Buying makeup or skincare online can often feel like a one-sided experience. Investing in the products offered by these five beauty brands giving back ensures that there is someone on the other side also profiting. And as Audrey Hepburn famously said, “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

Jade Sheinwald

Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts of living conditions in New Zealand
Nestled in the Pacific, just off the coast of Australia, New Zealand is a two-island country made up of the North and South Island. The two islands combined have a population of 3.7 million people. New Zealand is a country with booming tourism and many sites to see. In many ways, the country is doing well in providing for its citizens, but there are some areas that still need improvement. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in New Zealand.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in New Zealand

  1. One hundred percent of the New Zealand population is registered on “community drinking water supplies.” New Zealand’s water access is tested for protozoal and bacteriological compliance, which means that the water meets E. coli standards and is treated for protozoa. However, there are differences to access between the North and South Island. Both islands have 96 percent of water access meeting the bacteriological standards. However, when testing for protozoal compliance, the North Island drops down to 86 percent, and the South Island is as low as 66 percent of water access.
  2. About 41,000 people are homeless in New Zealand, which is almost one percent of the population. Research has broken homelessness into three categories in New Zealand: chronically, episodically and transitionally. The homeless problem in New Zealand is mostly transitional at 80 percent, meaning that people generally are displaced during a transition period in their lives. People who are chronically homeless make up the lowest numbers at 5 percent of homeless individuals.
  3. Housing First focuses on placing homeless people in the greater Auckland region into houses and providing support when needed. The organization prioritizes providing housing first, then the next steps are providing support services for mental health and substance use when needed. Its aim is for individuals to keep their tenancy and pursue their goals in a community. From May 2017 until December 2018, Housing First provided housing for 376 children and 461 households overall, with 57 percent of these households being Māori, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.
  4. The poverty rate for children living in New Zealand is 27 percent. Child poverty can be defined as a child lacking emotional and material support in order for them to develop and survive. It is estimated that 14 percent of children do not have access to basic necessities like clean clothing, housing and healthy foods. The New Zealand government has now committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and will be working to cut child poverty in half by 2030.
  5. About 11 percent of children are food insecure in New Zealand. Fortunately, companies and food businesses are concerned about hunger. SkyCity has donated more than 600 kilograms of food to rescue groups and food banks over the last two years. That is equivalent to 1,900 meals. Another large corporation, Countdown, donated $3.7 million worth of food supplies to local food banks in New Zealand. A small restaurant owner, Asher Boote, donates all of his excess food from his three restaurants back into the community through Kaibosh, a food rescue group. Both large and small businesses can help make a difference regarding hunger in New Zealand.
  6. Opening in 1994, the Child Poverty Action Group is a registered charity in New Zealand. The charity strives to end child poverty with research, education and advocacy. The organization researches the causes and effects of poverty in New Zealand and publishes its findings in order to educate the public and alert politicians and policymakers to enact change.
  7. In November 2018, New Zealand’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, the lowest it has been in 10 years. There was no change in the annual wage growth of 1.9 percent. If economist’s predictions are correct, New Zealand may see another .5 percent in employment growth within the next fiscal quarter.
  8. New Zealand’s access to health care is free or relatively low cost compared to other countries. There is great access with more than 3,500 general practitioners in both large and small cities throughout New Zealand as well as 40 public hospitals. However, there is a lack of access to transportation problem for some. In 2016/17, it was calculated that about 7.5 percent of Māori adults and 4.8 percent of Māori children were unable to get to the general practitioner or a hospital because of the lack of transportation or lack of access to transportation.
  9. Talk Teeth is one of many programs that focuses on the health of children. This program allows any child under the age of 18 to have free basic dental care annually. Standard treatments provided are a routine check for tooth decay and gum health, fluoride treatments to protect your teeth against decay, plaque cleaning, X-rays for tooth decay and teeth extractions. Children can be enrolled as early as one year of age for the Talk Teeth program by calling or filling out forms through public schools.
  10. New Zealand’s school system is compulsory for ages six through 16. There are currently 13 years of school in the system, including both primary and secondary schooling. Most children attend state schools or public schools; only five percent of children attend private school in New Zealand. Schools focus on balancing practical and theoretical learning as well as encouraging students to get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, or clubs. Ninety-nine percent of children were enrolled in primary school in 2016 with almost no gender disparity.
These top 10 facts about living conditions in New Zealand show that the country is trying to better the lives of all its citizens. Through large corporations, nonprofit organizations and government initiatives, New Zealand will continue to flourish in areas where it is already strong and create solutions to issues affecting its people.
– Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New Zealand
One of the most tragic effects of poverty is large populations of people going hungry. Many poor people cannot afford to feed themselves or their children. While New Zealand might not be on the list of countries in dire need of poverty assistance, families there are suffering. The top 10 facts about hunger in New Zealand highlight this.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New Zealand

  1. A study in 2017 discovered that 23 percent of the elderly population in New Zealand were malnourished.  Many elderly citizens find it difficult to access the supermarket and purchase groceries. This leads to the inability to cook meals and they end up being hospitalized due to malnourishment. However, once elderly citizens are moved to hospitalization or residential care, they have better access to food and nourishment.
  2. In 2016, the need for help from the Salvation Army had gone up by 9 percent. The organization handed out over 54,000 emergency parcels to citizens of New Zealand in the span of a year. There were 319 new individuals who required help each week. The head of ministries of the New Zealand sector stated that requests for aid came not only from those who were in extreme poverty but also from those living off minimum wage.
  3. In Auckland City alone, the request for food parcels went up almost 50 percent between the middle of 2015 and the end of 2016. The City Mission, a volunteer-based program in Auckland City, exceeded its budget by $100,000, leaving a huge hole in the city’s budget. According to the City Mission, with rising housing costs, bill costs and changes in other benefits, people were more inclined to cut back on their food spending to cover the price of every bill.
  4. According to The New Zealand Herald, The Red Cross used to have a program that fed children breakfast every day in low-income communities. However, due to lack of support from funders, the program had to end. This created a dramatic rise in hunger among children. In 2011, it was determined that this rise in hunger was due to a 7 percent rise in the cost of food. So, the 2.6 percent rise in income did not help most families
  5. Two programs, Kickstart and KidsCan, replaced the Red Cross breakfast program and went on to feed almost 40,000 children in schools across the country. This number was almost a fifth of the child population in schools which was around 229,400. At the time, there were 20,000 children on a waiting list to join the program since the government did not have enough funding to feed more than 40,000. To fix this, the community members pledged $15 a month to the program.
  6. Another one of the facts about hunger in New Zealand is that growing food on their own is not a simple solution for many who go hungry.  In order to grow a sufficient garden, you need quite a bit of resource. According to the Spinoff, a New Zealand paper, low-income citizens find it difficult to get access to the needed resources. Also, since they have to work hard to earn, they do not have enough time to invest to grow a garden.
  7. Housing in New Zealand is not as permanent as American housing. On average, families move every 15 months. To build a sustainable garden that will provide food for a family, people need to live in the same place for longer than 15 months. Also, growing a few plants in small pots is not enough for a family.
  8. Some claim that one of the reasons for hunger in New Zealand possibly comes from the “media bombardment” of eating healthy or dieting. Cutting back on food and exercising works for people who have plenty of nourishment, but when citizens who are already malnourished see this, it makes them feel as though the small amount of food they can manage is not good enough.
  9. On the other hand, there are reports on how fast food is killing the impoverished population in New Zealand. Fast food is cheap and easy to access but does not provide enough nutrients. It is also creating the opposite problem of hunger: an obesity crisis.  If elementary schools conducted nutritional education programs, it would help battle obesity problems as well as problems of malnourishment.
  10. On a brighter note, The Hunger Project, an NGO based all over the world, has a special division in New Zealand. They are aiming to cut back the hunger significantly by 2030 to meet the poverty reduction goals set by the United Nations. In New Zealand, the organization has been working since 1983. It has helped lead a strike against hunger with various communities across the country.

The crisis is not as bleak as the facts about hunger in New Zealand may make it seem. The government is aware that things need to be changed and that the focus needs to be on children who go hungry. Various bills geared towards government-funded food programs have gone through the system. Also, the Salvation Army and other nonprofit organizations are working together to bring relief. New Zealand, thus, hopes to see a reduction in hunger by 2030.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in New Zealand
With 65.6 million displaced individuals worldwide, including 22.5 million refugees, issues of refugee resettlement have become increasingly important. Even when countries do accept refugees, finding employment and housing can often be difficult, and refugees may find that the local community is resistant to their presence. To combat some of these issues, Pomegranate Kitchen, an organization that provides catering services, was formed in 2016 exclusively to employ female refugees in New Zealand as cooks, offering them work that allows them to use skills they already possess and share their cultural food with others.

Disputes Over New Zealand’s Refugee Quota

New Zealand, which currently has a population of 4.7 million, has taken in more than 33,000 refugees since World War II. The nation prides itself on having a strong resettlement program: all refugees in New Zealand spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Center (MRRC), which has programming designed to prepare refugees for life in the nation, including how to find employment and housing. Additionally, the government has launched a community sponsorship pilot program that will assist in refugee resettlement, providing English language classes and helping refugees navigate their communities.

However, New Zealand has faced criticism for the low number of refugees that they accept. The nation maintained a yearly quota of 750 refugees from 1987 until 2016, when the government raised the quota to 1,000 in response to claims by surrounding nations that New Zealand was not doing its part in sharing the burden of the global refugee crisis. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the labor-led government pledged in the summer of 2018 to further increase the yearly quota to 1,500, although there is currently no timeline for this change.

Pomegranate Kitchen’s Inspiration

Amid these discussions of quotas and costs, Rebecca Stewart, the co-founder of Pomegranate Kitchen, wants to bring the human element of the refugee crisis back into focus. She founded Pomegranate Kitchen in October of 2016 with her step-mother, Angie Winther, to provide employment opportunities for female refugees in New Zealand. Although Stewart and Winther do not have the ability to resolve government debates, they are doing what they can by making a difference for refugee women living in their community.

The inspiration for Pomegranate Kitchen came when Stewart worked for the Red Cross and saw the difficulties many refugees had in finding employment due to language barriers and lack of experience. Stewart believes that it is important to focus on the skills that refugees possess and what they can bring to New Zealand’s society.

Growth and Structure of Pomegranate Kitchen

Although the organization started small, Pomegranate Kitchen has developed significantly since 2016. Initially, they shared a kitchen with another restaurant and had to run a PledgeMe campaign to get the business going; now, thanks to community support, the catering service is thriving and hopes to continue to grow. Stewart stated that they have “been really lucky that so many people in the community understand what we’re trying to do and support it.”

Pomegranate Kitchen currently employs cooks from Iran, Ethiopia, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite some tensions due to cultural differences, the refugee cooks at Pomegranate Kitchen all get along fairly well and operate within a collaborative, rather than hierarchical, system. Stewart provides training on how to work in a commercial kitchen, including recipe creation, health and safety and stock management, but the women do not need extensive cooking training as they already have significant skills.

Additionally, refugee women are involved at all levels of the organization, including as head chefs and supervisors. This involvement ensures that the voices of the refugees are heard and considered in the decision-making process. Women in higher-level positions are also able to develop new types of skills including managerial, interpersonal and time management.

Benefits to Local Communities

Through Pomegranate Kitchen, refugees in New Zealand have been able to connect with the local community. Pomegranate Kitchen’s cooks use their own recipes to make dishes from their homelands, bringing new cuisine to New Zealand. A refugee from Iraq who works as a cook stated that she found her work rewarding because “people are interested to learn about my culture and enjoy the food we have to offer.” Stewart emphasized the role that Pomegranate Kitchen plays in community building by stating, “Our cooks are sharing their food and bridging the cultural divide.”

Pomegranate Kitchen shows how even small organizations have the potential to make a great difference for refugees in New Zealand. While the government works through decisions on how many refugees should be accepted into the country, it is crucial that the refugees who have been accepted continue to receive the necessary support to build a new life for themselves.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in New Zealand
In New Zealand, 27 percent of children live in income poverty. This means that around 290,000 children struggle with a multitude of difficulties including homelessness, missed meals and lack of heating at home.

In addition to both short-term suffering and long-term financial and health issues for the individual, child poverty in New Zealand costs the national economy more than $6 billion per year. While this phenomenon is long withstanding, the government has recently committed to quantifying and systematically addressing this problem.

Education, Employment and Health Impacts

The measure of child poverty in New Zealand is not legally defined but is generally accepted to be the situation in which the child lives in the home where the household income is below 60 percent of the national average. These children suffer from a number of related harms, including lower educational achievement, diminished employment opportunities and poor health.

The inability to afford a uniform, lunch or other school materials can inhibit a child from attending school, and an unstable home life and hunger can decrease performance in class. In the long run, this influences job opportunities and future income, creating a poverty cycle.

Child poverty also has a significant influence on the health of a child. Those living below the poverty line are six times as likely to die of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), three times as likely to get sick and twice as likely to need a hospital visit, compared to the average child.

As an adult, these kids are predisposed to develop a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease, addiction, obesity and dental complications. Poor physical health and hardships growing up increase the risk of mental health issues as well.

Government Action

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made child poverty in New Zealand a government priority, promising to cut child poverty numbers in half over the next decade. The recently submitted New Zealand Child Poverty Reduction Bill commits the government to make child poverty a priority, sets targets for which the government is directly accountable and requires transparent reporting about national child poverty levels. It currently has cross-party support, as well as endorsements from many organizations and advocacy groups.

Many aspects of the bill rely on recommendations from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), focusing on children’s rights and well-being with an emphasis on including family and community context. Some of the steps outlined in the bill include housing assistance, energy payment in the winter, restructuring of benefits for newborns and high-level data reporting.

Government Responsibilities

The government does not currently release statistics on child poverty levels. Budget impact and progress reports required by the bill would provide a legal framework for determining these programs and gauging the success of the outcomes.

While government commitment inspires hope, to make a significant decrease in levels of child poverty in New Zealand strong policy solutions must be implemented and the budget must be adapted to support those programs. Adoption of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill would hold the government accountable by law to alleviate child poverty, thereby improving the lives of a significant portion of the population.

Many of the recommendations and programs proposed by the bill have proven to be successful in other countries around the world, offering confidence that the children of New Zealand can have a brighter future if the government continues to take action.

Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Fiji
Fiji is currently in the midst of altering their education system to better incorporate girls and empower them to lead more fulfilling lives. About 83 percent of students in Fiji — both male and female — complete their compulsory education; however, it has been found that girls’ education in Fiji lacks STEM subjects and menstrual health.

Fijian Culture and Views About Women

The culture of Fiji has remained traditional, and until the early 2000s, still viewed its women as inferior to its men. The World Bank reported that in 2012, young girls — although educated — were often domesticized directly after completing their compulsory education.

It was noted in the same World Bank report that boys are more likely to focus their attention on making money, while girls are expected to live almost solely within the home. As of 2016, 41 percent of women and 76 percent of men work in the labor force of the Fiji Islands.

To change the outcome of girls’ future, the Fiji government is encouraging young girls to engage more with nontraditional, ‘non-female’ education tracks like math, physics and science. Leadership works to accomplish such prioritization through altering education systems to index young girls’ early education towards these STEM subjects. However, the World Bank found that in 2013, only 3.88 percent of the country’s GDP is spent on education.

Changing the STEM Status Quo

Nevertheless, Fiji’s government has promised to alter its education budget so that primary and secondary education facilities throughout Fiji receive proper funding for STEM subjects. The purpose of pushing these subjects is to encourage young girls (and later women) of Fiji to pursue careers in technological, mathematical and scientific fields, which have historically been dominated by men.

This gender disparity in STEM fields can be seen at the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF), an organization formed by the Fiji government to provide a sustainable and effective water system for the country. As of 2017, only four percent of the engineering and technical staff and about 25 percent of the entire staff of WAF are female.

This gender imbalance at WAF can be traced back to gender stereotypes that dominate much of Fiji’s culture, and discourage women from entering male-dominated fields.

Finding Empowerment Through Education

To combat much of the traditional gender segregation embedded in the mindset of Fiji’s society, The World Bank suggests that Fiji begin to teach courses on gender, like the empowerment of women, in schools.

Fiji also has struggled to teach young girls about menstrual health and hygiene due to shaming. Fiji’s education board classifies menstrual health as a ‘women-only’ issue and therefore does not educate male students about the subject. This separation has created a divide in education amongst the students and thus the society.

Moreover, labeling menstrual health as a ‘women-only’ issue has made the subject taboo for men in Fiji. This restriction often translates to the shaming women for their education of the topic. UNICEF’s menstrual health and hygiene assessment found that the number one reason girls are dissuaded from continuing with education in menstrual health is that of the taunting they receive from their male counterparts.

Female Under-Representation in Leadership

As a result of the inadequate girls’ education in Fiji, there remains a major under-representation of women in senior positions of power — in parliament, managerial roles, deans of education and many others. The Human Rights Commission found that in 2016, only 16 percent of Fiji’s parliament was made up of women.

Moreover, as of 2004, only five percent of directors of publicly listed companies were women, 14 percent of legal partnerships were held by women, and about 15 percent of professors and associate professors at universities in New Zealand were female.

Much of the inconsistencies amongst genders comes from the cultural norms of New Zealand. The norm of New Zealand is that the woman cares for the home and the children, while the man works. As a country, New Zealand has struggled to shake the idea of the “domestic woman” and the “working man” from its public perception. Consequently, women’s jobs, girls’ education and overall female opportunities have suffered.

Attaining Equality for Girls’ Education in Fiji

Fiji has strived for equality and has recognized that their major setbacks — particularly in girls’ education — are hindering them from reaching such a goal. These setbacks are large and are deeply rooted in the cultural norms of the country.

Nevertheless, the fight for girls’ education in Fiji has remained firm in ensuring that the government’s promise — to provide female students with equal opportunities — is pushed through to completion. It remains to be seen, however, how Fiji’s government will further drive the equality agenda, and how much of a priority equal education will continue to be.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in New ZealandAccording to UNICEF, one in five children in New Zealand live in income poverty. About 8 percent of these children face severe hardships. Disturbingly, these figures on child poverty in New Zealand have hardly changed in the past decade.

Poverty in New Zealand should by no means be confused with poverty in a developing or underdeveloped country. When we talk about child poverty in New Zealand, it is in comparison to developed nations, particularly the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) nations. While a lack of economic and financial stimuli are the primary reasons for poverty in a developing country, these are in a state of equilibrium for a developed nation like New Zealand. Any efforts to address poverty are met by social, cultural and economic forces pushing people into poverty. Poverty in New Zealand is mostly entrenched in provincial parts of the country, where it coincides with high rates of drug dependency, poor health outcomes, high crimes and multi-generational cycles of disadvantage. Incremental changes at the margins would not significantly impact levels of poverty; a “circuit breaker” approach is needed.

Having said that, within New Zealand’s context, poverty exists despite historically high employment rates and excellent tax breaks and benefits. The forces driving poverty in New Zealand are not as simple as unemployment or inadequate state benefits.

Child poverty in particular imposes a considerable burden on a nation’s economy, and if left unresolved for a long time can severely damage its long-term prosperity. New Zealand currently spends upwards of $6 billion per year on remedial interventions. Failure to alleviate child poverty now will undermine the country’s achievements in areas like reduction in child abuse, total educational attainment and improvement in skill levels while hurting its longstanding economic advantage.

In 2016, when UNICEF’s Innocenti Report was published, it provided an assessment of child well-being, neonatal mortality, suicide, mental health, drunkenness and teen pregnancy across the OECD countries and the European Union. New Zealand was ranked 34 out of the 41 countries assessed and was in the bottom quarter for many of the measures used. In addition, New Zealand also has the highest rate of adolescent suicide of any country in the report, about two and a half times the average of 6.1. This humbling report on child poverty in New Zealand opened up a country-wide debate, with Kiwis demanding solutions from the government.

In 2012, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner submitted its report detailing 78 recommendations, each addressing some form of child poverty. Most recently, in order to contribute to the national conversation on poverty reduction, TacklingPovertyNZ conducted a series of workshops and came up with a list of seven suggestions to tackle poverty. These suggestions include simplifying and standardizing the benefit system, giving more benefits to regions of high need, revisiting the role of the state as the employer of last resort, investing in “hard” regional infrastructure,
investing significantly in mental health, targeting behavioral drivers of poverty and introducing asset-based assistance for high risk children.

While these suggestions seem credible and executable, it is often the case that credible policy options are always scrutinized under the political microscope of feasibility, lack of profile or degree of freedom from the status quo. Most policies that are known to work and are shown to be politically feasible have either been implemented or are under consideration. However, it is only by looking at policies that lie outside the range of political feasibility that we stand a realistic chance of identifying new ideas that might actually make a significant difference.

Jagriti Misra

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in New ZealandA Brief Background
A series of battles between 1843 and 1872 took place between Britain and the Polynesian Maori living on the island of New Zealand. This culminated in a British victory, marking the beginning of the island’s involvement with Western history. The newly- founded colony gained independence from Britain in 1907. New Zealand then participated in numerous wars alongside Britain until modern day. Currently, the nation has a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Water Quality In New Zealand
The water quality in New Zealand is high when compared to other countries around the world. The rivers, lakes and wetlands provide the environment necessary for a wide variety of plants and animals to flourish. Rural areas today have seen no issues with the water quality.

The urban regions, however, suffer from having a substantially lower water quality when compared to the country’s more rural areas. In recent years, increased land use has caused its water to become increasingly polluted. Another reason for the increased land use concerns the nation’s agricultural sector. The beef and dairy industries in New Zealand have little regulation and companies involved often do not take efforts to ensure its waste does not contaminate local water supplies. This increased land use has disastrous implications for the aquatic life, drinking water supplies and water-based recreation in New Zealand’s economy.

As the water quality in New Zealand continues to decrease, so does the country’s available amount of sanitized drinking water. This negatively impacts the nation’s section of its economy that relies on fresh water.

The Plan For 2040
Prime Minister Bill English has created a new action plan to make 90 percent of the country’s waterways swimmable by 2040. The government hopes to accomplish this goal changing its water quality guidelines. Another method being implemented involves increasing subsidies to farms that are not polluting nearby water sources by $2 billion in the next 23 years.

Overall, the water quality in New Zealand is high in its rural regions; however, in more urban areas, increased land use and environmentally dangerous farming practices have reduced its water quality significantly. Nevertheless, the future looks bright for this country as long as the Prime Minister continues his action plan to improve the quality of water in New Zealand.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in New ZealandUnlike other countries, New Zealand does not use an official poverty line. Generally speaking, the understanding is that with an income level set at 60 percent of median household disposable income after housing costs, it is reasonable to expect that this will prevent the worst effects of poverty.

It is also generally understood that poverty in New Zealand can entail hunger and food insecurity, poor health outcomes, reduced life expectancy, debt and poor housing. One in seven households in New Zealand experiences poverty, which includes about 230,000 children overall.

Māori and other Pacific peoples represent the majority of people living in persistent poverty in New Zealand, along with beneficiaries and single parents. Welfare benefits in New Zealand are not enough for someone to live on, much less with dignity.

Emergency assistance resources are stretched, and housing assistance is not always adequate. The gap between the rich and the poor is still large and not shrinking anytime soon.

One of the prevailing myths in New Zealand and other places is that those on welfare or other benefits have an inherent lazy character and lack a work ethic. While unemployment remains high, many jobs available to those on benefits are insecure and do not pay as well as full-time permanent jobs. Furthermore, those on benefits often deal with outside factors, like health issues and disabilities, that make working a job difficult.

The approximately 230,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand may add economic and social cost to New Zealand society later on because their problems were not addressed. Many are at risk for further health problems both physical and mental, and have a higher risk of having to be involved in the justice system. Currently, this costs $2 billion or so every year.

Child poverty in New Zealand remains the most pressing issue of social justice. However, if there are people willing to help, there is still reason for hope.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Pixabay


The small number of refugees New Zealand takes in ranks them 90th per capita in resettlement. After making adjustments considering wealth and population, the ranking falls to 116th. Many countries in Europe are critical of the small number of refugees New Zealand takes in. Here is a look at 10 facts about New Zealand refugees that may be a surprise.

  1. The New Zealand government works with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to offer refugees permanent resettlement in New Zealand.
  2. In 2016, after more than 30 years, New Zealand increased their refugee quota from 750 to 1000.
  3. New Zealand accepts refugees from the following major groups: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Rohingya and Syria.
  4. Refugees undergo background checks before being allowed to live in New Zealand.
  5. The needs and services required by refugees are determined prior to their arrival.
  6. Refugees must complete a six-week reception program at Auckland’s Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC). The program helps refugees build social and coping skills and provides information regarding work and employment expectations.
  7. The Refugee Resettlement Strategy has five goals:
    · All refugees of working age have a job and income or are supported by a family member with a paying job.
    · All refugees actively participate in life in New Zealand and have a keen sense of belonging.
    · Ensure the health and well-being of refugees and their families.
    · Refugees can speak English well enough to allow them to participate in school and daily activities.
    · Refugees live in homes that are safe, secure, clean and affordable without assistance from government housing.
  8. Refugees settle in six regions: Auckland, Hamilton, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin.
  9. Family reunification is when a refugee living in New Zealand applies for a family member to receive a visa. Refugees coming to New Zealand on a Refugee Family Support Category visa do not receive financial assistance from the government or any of the resettlement assistance provided to refugees.
  10. Refugees who fear serious harm or cruel treatment if they return to their country of origin can apply for asylum. In 2013-14 New Zealand granted refugee status to 69 asylum seekers — a dismally low number when compared to countries such as Hungary (129, 203) and Sweden (228,601).

The Syrian refugee crisis in addition to 59.5 million people forced to flee their country of origin have drawn the attention of the world and highlighted the woefully small number of refugees New Zealand is willing to take in. These 10 Facts about New Zealand refugees make it clear that they have a strategy that helps refugees make a smooth transition from living in their country of origin to living in New Zealand. Sadly, it also highlights the unwillingness of New Zealand to stand with their international partners and do their fair share.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr