Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Children against poverty and the wheel of karma

In 2007 John Key shamelessly used 12 year old Aroha Nathan of Mt Roskill's McGehan Close as a political prop to highlight Labour's apparent policy neglect of a group he defined as the underclass (a group always defined from outside and above). Mr Key promised to restore the rungs that had been kicked out from the ladder of opportunity he himself had been able to enjoy, and talked about bringing opportunity and hope to "struggling families and communities in New Zealand".
Fast forward to 2011 and just prior to the election Mr Key is forced to admit that the “growing underclass” he promised to tackle in 2008 has probably grown further – rather than decreased – during his first term in government… He said he had visited a number of budgeting services and food banks “and I think it’s fair to say they’ve seen an increase in people accessing their services. So that situation is there.”
During the 2011 election, child poverty and income inequality became background election issues, issues the government desperately tried to ignore. They were largely successful in this with the help of the mainstream news outlets until Bryan Bruce's documentary on child poverty screened on TV3 the week before the election. Like a festering wound suddenly exposed for all to see, child poverty was out in public sight.
Now, a contemporary of Aroha Nathan's has decided she's not gonna take it any more, and has challenged the government head on about child poverty. Jazmine Heka has set up a Facebook page and started a petition calling for calling for free healthcare for all children whenever they need it, free healthy school lunches for all children and a warrant of fitness for all rental houses (be on the right side of history - download the petition here).
It's one thing to use the young for your own ends, but quite another for them to take matters into their own hands. National deserve this. What goes around comes around.
Kia kaha, Jazmine.