Punitive welfare is a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

For hundreds of years all 66 million acres of Aotearoa New Zealand belonged to groups of Māori on a collective basis. The land sustained Māori. This wealth from the land included, with the arrival of non-Māori, goods for Māori to trade. The land was the source of wealth in Aotearoa New Zealand and belonged to Māori.

In 1840 the Crown and some Māori signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty did not transfer any land from Māori to the Crown. Article 2 guaranteed that Māori retained their land, but if they wanted to sell, they committed to sell only to the Crown by giving a right of pre-emption. The Treaty was consistent with international law at the time.

From 1840 the Crown, in breach of the Treaty, embarked on a series of processes which separated Māori from nearly all of their land. These processes included unfair land transactions, war, confiscation and the operation of the Native Land Court. Today approximately only 5% of Aotearoa New Zealand remains in collective Māori ownership. Through Treaty breach, Māori lost nearly all of their source of sustenance and this wealth was removed from Māori.

The loss of approximately 95% of their land, and other Crown breaches of the Treaty, left Māori in an impoverished state, and many Māori remain impoverished today. The effects of the historical context, including the economic effects,
continue today. Welfare payments, provided by the Crown, that do not support families to live well, are a continuation of this devastating colonisation story.

Punitive welfare entrenches poverty and the ongoing impoverishment of Māori. Punitive welfare is a breach of Te Tirit o Waitangi. Te Tiriti promised tino rangatiratanga and equity for Māori. Punitive welfare undermines this promise. For this reason, Poverty Action Waikato supports the Statement of Claim and affidavit filed by Lady Tureiti Moxon in Wai 3015. This Claim stipulates that punitive welfare is a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and entrenches poverty in Māori communities.

The following are the omissions by the Crown listed in the Claim:

  • The benefits to impoverished Maori are too low to live on;
  • Crown agencies punitively administer benefits and other support for impoverished Māori.
  • Crown agencies are actively preventing impoverished Māori from lifting themselves out of poverty, and entrenching multi-generational poverty.
  • Benefits provided to groups of New Zealanders other than impoverished Māori are significantly higher than those provided to impoverished Māori.
  • Māori organisations have the capacity and capability to support impoverished Māori. However, much of their work is trying to address harm directly attributable to poverty, initially caused by the historical context and being entrenched by Crown agencies.

More and more families are being pushed into poverty due to COVID-19. Whānau are under-resourced, overstressed and unable to give children real opportunities to thrive. Whānau cannot afford to wait for increased income support.

Poverty Action Waikato supports the Wai 3015 claim and agrees with Lady Moxon that an urgent hearing should be held to address the issues raised in this claim. Poverty Action Waikato has submitted an affidavit in support of the Wai 3015 Claim.


Stories from Kirikiriroa Hamilton Community Houses (2019)

Community Houses Report Cover

In Stories from Kirikiriroa Hamilton Community Houses (2019), members of the Poverty Action Waikato network interviewed seven community houses and community centres asking a series of questions as prompts to begin to unpack the stories of how each community house has developed over time and how their community has changed with them, how their localness is experienced, and identifying some of the unique value that they add to their community and in some cases have done so for generations.


Community houses are holders of incredible local knowledge and expertise that is invaluable in having credibility to speak to the structural issues and challenges that their communities experience. Their local expertise makes them ideal to respond to issues and organise communities around events, activities, and opportunities that present themselves. Community houses are flexible and creative with operational constraints and are constantly thinking ahead to how else they can grow and what gaps they could address. The sense of service to, and the feeling of ownership by the community is evidence of the importance that the community places on their respective community houses.

The stories shared in this report reflect the need for spaces and resources being made available to the community and that doing so has an immense positive impact. Community houses intervene early and build resilience over cups of tea, a phone call, access to a computer, by growing a feeling of belonging and connection, and by offering care-giving and community parenting, all activities that seem small but have huge potential in preventing stress and crisis. There is a need for more services and for greater funding of this work across the board. Community houses are by their nature neighbourhood-based and operate with broad inclusive mandates to be flexible and responsive to support their communities now and into the future.

You can find a copy of the report here.


Youth Homes: Building the Village. Understanding the experiences of youth homelessness in Kirikiriroa

Executive Summary Homelessness for young people is occurring from a diverse range of experiences, with some being more concerning and troubling than others. Experiences range from needing a few nights away from home at a friend’s house to the need … Continue reading

Let this report be our cry – State of the Nation 2018

State of the nation report

Cover image from Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018

Walter Whitman was an American Poet who wrote of democracy as a diversity of people seeking unity. He sought to lift up the value and the significance of the everyday person in the development of society.

Yesterday, the State of the Nation 2018 report was released nationwide, including in Hamilton, Kirikiriroa. The report is titled – Kei a Tātou – It is us. The title is inspired by Whitman.

There is no nation, no society, no corporation, no entity at all without people and the relationships they have with one another. The statistics in the report tell a story, a stark narrative of sorrow. Is it our story? Is this us and, if so, who are we?

The idea of one nation, of one Aotearoa New Zealand, of one us, is not one that Poverty Action Waikato subscribes too. We acknowledge the United Nations of Māori hapū that signed He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (The Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand). We also understand that Pākehā were welcomed to this land but only on the conditions outlined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. No statistics can be interpreted well without knowing our history, and the ongoing process of colonisation.

We value the Salvation Army reports for what they share with us. The statistics, as Anglican Action’s Karen Morrison-Hume suggests, outrage us. As one woman reflected at the meeting last night – the statistics in the report are what the government collects, and the Salvation Army reflects it back to the community. The State of our Nation paints a sorry tale. Let us cry back – things are not right!

Child Poverty

Figure from Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018

Child poverty has tailed off a little. Does this mean our communities are faring better? Not according to John Kavanagh from the Catholic Family Support Service. For those families who are suffering, the reality of poverty has got worse. So what does it mean to say that child poverty has lessened? Statistics without stories do not tell what we know. Let’s share stories.

Prison Population

Figure from Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018

The prison population continues to grow. Why do we continue on a treadmill of what has already been done so many times before and failed? Over two-thirds of people who come out of prison, go back before 2 years. A friend was recently caught shop lifting baby formula. She was sent to court. She was stealing, but what would this story look like if aroha was our response and if aroha guided us in the first instance so that these desperate circumstances were prevented?  We are heartened by some of the community responses that we hear – how people found by the police to be without the right driving license can sign up for a driver license course instead of being fined. This is a story of hope in our community.

And homelessness – it is set to increase they say, because government policy will take a while to change.


Quote from Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018

How can we accept this? In Hamilton, our homeless community has been banned from the city centre and from Five Cross Roads. Is this the best that we can do? Peter Humphrys has long suggested that we bring back boarding houses. What do you think?

And how about wet houses (Wellington’s doing it)? These are places where people who are seriously addicted can drink safely – places where they perhaps may gather the strength to face their torrid realities that together we created.

Methamphetamine related crime is on the up, a big up. What is our response?

Drug crime

Figure from Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018

The stories behind the statistics are the lives of people, our mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, cousins…They are whānau.

At Poverty Action, we are weary of the stigmatising and damaging impact of statistics and are determined to understand them in context. We are outraged and our cry is, let’s talk, let’s gather, let’s respond.

Thank you to the Salvation Army for engaging our minds and stirring out hearts.

For the full copy of “Kei a Tātou – It Is Us: State of the Nation 2018” visit http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/research-media/social-policy-and-parliamentary-unit/latest-report/State-of-Nation-2018

Ngaa mihi ki a tātou katoa.

Breaking Leftover Bread

In the report Breaking Leftover Bread Kaivolution and Food Insecurity in Kirikiriroa Hamilton (2017), Robert Moore and Alex Bailey interviewed people working in 13 community and social service organisations that receive and redistribute food from Kaivolution. The report reflects the observations of those who participated about the experiences of food insecurity in their communities, the barriers that people have to accessing food, and the role of Kaivolution in redistributing food in their communities.

Many participants identified that there are significant economic and logistical barriers to accessing food. Kaivolution mitigates poverty but it does not ensure food security. Kaivolution redistributes food from a heavily industrialised food system that treats food as a commodity, to community services wishing to offer nourishment and manaaki.

The stories in this report reflect the concern to ensure all people and children have food. Sometimes the food redistributed by Kaivolution is nutritious and sometimes it isn’t. Rescued food comes with no nutritional guarantee and it is not necessarily a recipe for good health. However, Kaivolution food does fill empty bellies and it can alleviate budgeting pressures so that the rent gets paid and the power stays on. While this support and food relief is very appreciated by the community, Kaivolution and other food charity services do not address the structural inequities that underpin food insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It is hoped that this research adds to the acknowledgement of the hard work of Kaivolution and others in the community, but to also encourage and contribute to an ongoing and broader conversation about social and environmental justice in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The report is available here: Breaking Leftover Bread

Aladdin’s Cave – a story about Mobile Retail Trucks

As a Financial Mentor (Budget Advisor) and the Education Facilitator for Hamilton Budgeting Advisory Trust, I witness weekly the effects mobile shopping trucks have on our community.

Yes the community as a whole not just certain areas. I will explain this statement later on.

The people who drive these Red or White Aladdin’s Cave on Wheels, they prey on the weak, vulnerable, lower socio economic areas of not just the city but the outlying areas as well. In fact the outlying areas suffer the most because they are the more vulnerable.

Why are they vulnerable?

Because they are the people who don’t have the cars, or money to put into the cars to make them legally driveable, or just don’t have a budget to pay for petrol to travel into the city to get the better deals.

And then there is the fact that they don’t have cash to spend on clothes, manchester etc. or they have a poor credit rating, therefore no ability to get a non-shark lender loan.

So what is the draw of the Red or White Aladdin’s Cave on wheels?

You can get it now and pay later. “But wait there’s more if you purchase this item we will chuck in this item for free!”

The elderly, infirmed, gullible, the poor are ushered to the opening of the cave and then they can shop inside at the leisure of their discretion, booking up everything available to their hearts desire.

I have a sole parent client who went into the cave two Christmases ago to buy a selection of clothes and toys for her children. It is now September 2017 and she owes $700! For three sets of clothes and six towels. These were originally $225.00 when purchased. If she had gone to Kmart, the Warehouse, Postie Plus etc and put these items on layby she would have only paid the $225.00 or probably less as the items are cheaper in those stores. Yes some of the responsibility lies with the client as we know Christmas comes every 365 days of the year, we have 365 days to save.

When I put that fact to clients they go yeah you’re right Christmas comes same time every year.

So it is a community and social problem, lack of education, lack of people power, why don’t people just go out onto the street and tell those damn Caves to !#$% OFF!

I have a house bound elderly client barely has enough money to pay her rent, power and insurances. Lives on $22 per week to feed herself and purchase general grocery items who wanted some companionship, so she settled for a 42 inch TV but wait one of Aladdin’s men told her he could throw in a vacuum cleaner for free if she went up to a 50 inch TV ! She can barely get around to vacuum her little one bedroom unit but she still got it anyway.

I met her two days after the deal went down because a concerned neighbour made her book an appointment with our service. By the end of our 1 ½ hour appointment I had them come back and get that 50 inch TV. I told the company that there was a serious breach of responsible lending and threatened them with exposure to Consumer NZ. Never had so many apologies ever in an hour.

A heart-warming ending but how many other vulnerable people in our community get stung?

Another case I have had is a client who had paid off her account in full with the additional 44.49% interest on top, well done to her, had an extra $20 deducted from her final account. When she contacted them to show that she had paid the bill in full, they apologised profusely and suggested to her that she now has credit and would she like to purchase other items from inside the cave.

She continually called for a week daily to ask them to reimburse her credit, nothing happened so she decided that she better seek some advice from our service.

I called this outfit and they had the cheek to tell me to write a letter on her behalf requesting the reimbursement. They put the blame on her overpayment, believing this to be their right to keep her money and use it on credit in their system.

I write letters to the Cave operators often telling them to back off my clients once their debt is cleared and never to deal with my clients again. And as I pen this off there will be another vulnerable family being approached and ushered to the Cave.

The sooner a bylaw is put in place that bans mobile caves from frequenting the lower socio economic areas or something similar the better. You never see the Mobile Caves in Rototuna!


Penned by Ursula Pollock

Financial Mentor/Education Officer

Hamilton Budgeting Advisory Trust

International Women’s Day Report by Kyro Selket


I want to begin by saying, THANK YOU to everyone who got involved in my crazy International Women’s Day idea. 2017 saw Kirikiriroa Hamilton offered a number of events throughout the day, which acknowledged local women and women’s communities. Before I expand I want to take this moment to thank our sponsors: Countdown (Bridge ST), D V Byrant, Kaivolution, and Hamilton City Council. Also thanks to Ivan from Nivara for opening his space for an evening of entertainment.

As I stated there were a number of events organised for the day.
IWD 2017, began with breakfast at Fairfield Community Centre. Thanks to Eddie Neha and a superb crew of cook’s, guests were offered a variety of food. This included a wonderful hot breakfast, along with muffins, fruits and cereals. Rangatahi from Fairfield Intermediate, who were participating in their week long leaders program, welcomed guests and spoke with them about their hopes and dreams. Participants also included teenagers from St Pauls School. So again a BIG SHOUT out to all those who organised, cooked, and participated in the event. Thank You.

After weeks of scorching temperatures and sun the weather decided to be problematic, unleashing a barrage of extreme rain and wind. Sadly, this saw us cancel the Women’s Market which was to be held in Garden Place. Probably the hardest event to organise, what with so many women’s organisations struggling to stay ahead of the onslaught of neoliberalism policies. Nevertheless, 12 individuals, tertiary and women’s organisations confirmed their interest. Stalls ranged from yummy food to information of consent. Whilst the weather beat us in 2017, it will not in 2018.

Furthermore our women’s workshop ‘’A Powerful and Purposeful You, “which was to be run by Sue Kohn-Taylor, a leading personal development and wellbeing coach was also cancelled. The event was to be held at the Hamilton Business Association on Victoria St, however due to an increasingly strange noise coming from Sue’s engine, she was driving from Auckland to Hamilton, Sue was forced to turn back. The professional that Sue is meant she ensured she caught up with all those enrolled guarantying they received all the workshops information. So THANK YOU Sue and I hope the car is ok now.
Important to any International Women’s Day is events that express the creativity of women. With the support of Creative Waikato and Yasmin Davis hard work, IWD held an exhibition at Creative Waikato. it was a snapshot of 12 local women’s work, presented in different mediums and from different cultural backgrounds. Whilst the exhibition was only for one day, I am sure that those who managed to visit would have been as humbled as I was by the beauty of the works on offer. Next year we are ensuring that the exhibition run for a week.

At 1pm I found myself at the Lunchtime Recital Series, held in the Dr John Gallager Chamber, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Hear participants were entertained by talented women from the music and theater department. Organised by Stephanie Acraman, herself an Opera Singer/Voice Teacher at University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music, the programme included Sonta Op 27 No 2, Sexy Lady, Symphonie Espagnole, as well as extracts from ‘Gender Equality is Your Issue Too and quotes by famous women’, such as Kate Sheppard. The recital was a feat, more so because according to Stephanie, it was the first time lecturers, tutors and students, all female, had performed together on International Women’s Day.

An essential aspect for IWD in Kirikiriroa Hamilton was to highlight women who have played an integral role in shaping communities in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, as well as local women’s lives. With the help of Tracy Robinson, Margret Evans and a small team of librarians; Celebrating Local Historical Heroines was offered. This involved reproducing prints of drawings commissioned by the previous City Council of local local women. It included Hilda Ross (displayed at DemiUrgos – Victoria St), the Māori Queen Te Atairangikaahu, and others which were displayed at the Hamilton Library Popup. Continuing on this theme, Kim Samphier, manager of Momento on Victoria St, elected to profile Dame Malvina Major.

In conjunction with the displays, Margret Evans organised for Dr Diane Gordon-Burns (Ngati Mahuta) to share the story of Tainui’s 14th Century Whakaotirangi. The presentation also explored research she conducted on other local Waikato women.
To end the day participants, whanau and friends were invited to the IWD closing event at Nivara Lounge. Sixteen year old musician Mouse Varcoe and Raglans Parabola West preformed for a somewhat small but intimate crowd. It was the perfect way to end the day.

IWD has not been celebrated on such a scale for a number of years. Therefore the goal of bring this important event back onto the local map was certainly achieved. Since the event there have been a number of enquiries about what will happen in 2018 and many of those who participated have said that they would like to be kept in the loop for IWD 2018. For me the most exciting aspect of the day was engaging with a diverse group of people. It felt good to be engaging with women of all ages, sharing their hopes and dream for their lives and the future of Kirikiriroa Hamilton.

Waitangi Day – Living Wage & Mobile Retail Trucks

On Monday the 6th of February, Poverty Action Waikato joined with the Waikato Living Wage network to commemorate Waitangi Day. It was a privilege to be part of the community day hosted by Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa and The Western Community Centre.

We spent time talking with the community about the Living Wage and the difference it would make in our lives and communities. One woman reflected to us that she was able to make ends meet only because of the sharing that happens amongst her extended family. Making ends meet on her minimum wage salary alone was just not possible. Another women shared her concerns about the low wages that school support staff receive, and how vital they are to the functioning of the school and particularly to children whose needs are often over and above those of others. The Waikato Living Wage Network is now even stronger with these women joining us in our advocacy!

We also spent time talking with people about the Mobile Retail Trucks. The message was clear – people want them gone. We gathered submissions from people and our working group is now collating these into a report that will be delivered to Hamilton City Council. We will also publish this report on our website. Hamilton City Council maintains that there is very little that they can do to curb the operation of the trucks in Hamilton City. We are not so sure. We are continuing our research and advocacy in this space and listening to the voices we heard on Waitangi Day.

Thank you to all those people who shared their ideas and passion with us, and to the tamariki for painting beautiful Living Wage banners.