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


New Zealand, a Pacific island country known for its beautiful waters and unique wildlife, is more than just a tropical paradise. By a recent estimate, New Zealand has the 48th highest GDP per capita in the world. Plus, the average New Zealander leaves school when they are between 18 and 19 years old, whereas in many other countries children leave school before they reach the age of 12. New Zealand also puts a relatively high proportion (9%) of the overall government budget toward healthcare.

Though New Zealand is by no means an impoverished country, thousands of women still suffer from a lack of access to sanitary products. An estimated 95,000 young girls in New Zealand don’t go to school during their period because they don’t have access to the necessary sanitary products. However, the government is currently working to move closer toward New Zealand’s solution to period poverty.

New Zealand’s Sanitary Product Problem

A lack of access to safe sanitary products during menstruation is defined as period poverty. Studies have shown that across the globe, one in four women struggle to purchase the products necessary to deal with their menstruation. When women don’t have access to tampons and pads, it can lead to devastating situations. Some women are unable to work or leave the house, or are even shamed for what their bodies are going through. This makes education, employment and other aspects of life very difficult for women — for about a week every month.

In New Zealand, close to 12% of school-age girls between the ages of 12 and 18 have difficulty or are unable to purchase sanitary products. More than that, close to 10% of girls reported that they had skipped school because they didn’t have access to tampons or pads.

The Plan

The number of school-age girls who were missing out on educational opportunities due to their menstrual cycle led New Zealand’s prime minister to take steps towards eradicating period poverty. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that period products were not a luxury but in fact a necessity for female students. In light of this, New Zealand’s government is using NZ$2.6 million to help relieve period poverty. Eventually, New Zealand hopes to eradicate period poverty, but funds will first go toward making sanitary products free for girls in 15 New Zealand schools.

New Zealand’s Future

The hope for this government initiative is that it will lead to having free sanitary products in all state schools by 2021. While this would be a huge step toward New Zealand’s solution to period poverty, there is still a long way to go. Dignity, a local organization that focuses on women’s rights and access to sanitary products, has voiced its appreciation and support for the government’s efforts to support women’s access to menstrual products.

However, Dignity also pointed out that there is still work to be done. Women throughout the country need access to sanitary products, not just girls in primary and secondary schools. Moreover, Arden’s period poverty initiative is just one part of a plan that aims to halve childhood poverty in the next 10 years. While it may not address every aspect of period poverty or childhood poverty, New Zealand’s plan is moving the country one step closer toward eliminating period poverty.

Lucia Kenig-Ziesler
Photo: Flickr

poverty in new zealandNew Zealand is an island country located southeast of Australia. The population of the nation is estimated to be 4.8 million with 1.1 million of its people under the age of 18. The issues of income inequality and poverty impact children heavily. The children living in this unfortunate situation lack quality meals to eat, sanitation products and adequate opportunities in education. COVID-19 threatens to increase the number of children affected by these hardships. The child poverty rate in New Zealand stands at 27% which is higher than the 13% world average. However, government officials have a plan for the next 10 years to lower poverty in New Zealand among children.

4 Ways New Zealand’s Government Fights Child Poverty

  1. Free sanitary products – Government officials have agreed to help girls in school between the ages of 9 and 18 years by providing them with free sanitary products. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that this addresses the concern that young women potentially stay home from school because of the lack of access to these products, which may hamper their educational development. Ardern says she hopes this will ease some of the stress girls experience while in school and thinks it will improve attendance rates.
  2. Exercise – The country’s Ministry of Health implemented guidelines to promote physical wellness for its adult and child population. Children living in the poorest areas are expected to live almost nine years less than those who reside in the wealthiest areas. Exercise can help increase the lifespan for children in poverty, especially as child obesity is a growing concern. The guidelines for children under the age of 18 recommend one hour a day of participation in recreational activities such as sports and no more than two hours a day of engaging in other interests like watching television.
  3. Housing initiatives – The nation’s government is working on fighting poverty in New Zealand by providing better affordable housing options. The initiative has created an opportunity to assist those living in impoverished areas and provide other resources besides housing. Access to doctors for little to no cost, as a part of the initiative, has benefited families experiencing “material hardship” by helping them receive medical treatment for their children and themselves.
  4. Addressing child abuse – New Zealand has had a high number of child abuse reports over the years. With COVID-19 forcing schools to shut down across the globe, some officials have worried about a sudden spike in child abuse.  The country’s Chief Executive of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Gráinne Moss, says social workers have been given tools to help combat this issue and be there for children at risk. Poverty in New Zealand remains one of the biggest factors for the occurrence of child abuse. Effective methods such as sending meal kits, arts and crafts and virtual chatting between children and social workers have helped to lower the number of abuse cases during the pandemic.

The government of New Zealand believes these steps will lower the poverty rate among children in the country. Over the next ten years, officials plan to add more items to the list of solutions to help children suffering from a lack of needed resources. The added items will focus on the purposes of improving child health and wellness.

– Donovan Baxter
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in New Zealand
New Zealand is an archipelago with three main islands: the North, South and Stewart Island. The indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, the Māori people, refer to the country as Aotearoa. With a population of approximately 5 million, Europeans make up the predominant ethnic group. The median age of the inhabitants is 38 years. Further, 86 percent of the population dwells in urban areas. Additionally, 90 percent of the population lives within 50 kilometers of the coastline. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in New Zealand.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in New Zealand

  1. Māori Life Expectancy: During 2013, the life expectancy of Māori males was 73 years and 77 years for Māori females. Life expectancy at birth of non-Māori males was 80 years and 84 years for non-Māori females.
  2. Māori Suicide Rates: Māori suicide rates were significantly higher than the rest of the population. Ages 15-24 years are the most likely to commit suicide. The suicide rate of males was twice as prevalent as for females.
  3. Cardiovascular Disease: One can attribute cardiovascular disease, cancer and injury to the highest mortality rates. The predominant causes of death are ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, cerebrovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  4. Alcohol and Smoking: During 2016, 80 percent of the adult population reported alcohol use once or more a week. Additionally, 16.3 percent of New Zealanders are current smokers; however, approximately 19 percent of youth ages 18-24 smoke daily.
  5. Organizations Aiding Indigenous Peoples: The New Zealand Health Strategy, Māori Health Strategy and the Primary Health Care Strategy came to fruition in 2000. These strategies diminish and manage racial discrimination, ethnicity data protocols and mortality records.
  6. Crops: The crops traditionally eaten in New Zealand are sweet potatoes, taro and cabbage. For greens, the Māori also traditionally consume shoots and leaves.
  7. Work-Life Balance: Organizational commitments and supportive work environments improve work-life balance. In New Zealand, full-time workers devote 63 percent of their day to personal care and leisure.
  8. Fetal Deaths: During 2016, there was a fetal death rate of 6.8 per 1,000 total births and an infant death rate of 4 per 1,000 live births. Mortality rates are generally higher for males than females. Additionally, mortality rates for Māori were generally greater than for non-Māori.
  9. Public Health Care: A major contributor to these 10 facts about life expectancy in New Zealand is that the public health care system offers free hospital care to all permanent residents. Primary health organizations continue to provide subsidies to medical costs. Additional expenditures apply to non-residents.
  10. University Attendance: During 2018, there were 175,245 university students attending school with 49,400 post-graduate students. Over 44,000 students enroll and graduate from universities every year; 90 percent of which are at a bachelor’s degree level. More Māori reports indicate less schooling and higher levels of unemployment.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in New Zealand determine that occupation, income and education all directly correlate with health and life expectancy. Certain circumstances provide beneficial outcomes and better health than people living in poverty. Māori people continue to face worse health conditions than other ethnic groups. Further, racism and inequality are detrimental to wellbeing and life expectancy. However, mortality rates are beginning to improve throughout New Zealand. Socioeconomic factors still continue to play a prominent role in life expectancy.

Zach Erlanger
Photo: Flickr

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