State poor substitute for families

When I read that New Zealand marriage rates continue to decline I wondered if that had any influence on poverty and housing shortages.

A report from Family First authored by Lindsay Mitchel  says it does.

The executive summary says:

Despite families being much smaller, parents being older, mothers being better educated and having much higher employment rates, child poverty has risen significantly since the 1960s.

In 1961, 95 percent of children were born to married couples; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to 53 percent.

For Maori, 72 percent of births were to married parents in 1968; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to just 21 percent.

In 2015, 27 percent of registered births were to cohabiting parents. The risk of parental separation by the time the child is aged five is, however, 4-6 times greater than for married parents.

Cohabiting relationships are becoming less stable over time.

Cohabiting parents are financially poorer than married parents. They form an interim group between married and single parent families.

Single parent families make up 28 percent of all families with dependent children. These families are the poorest in New Zealand.

51% of children in poverty live in single parent families.

Single parents have the lowest home ownership rates and the highest debt ratios.

Children in sole parent families are often exposed to persistent poverty and constrained upward mobility.

Of registered births in 2015, 5% had no recorded father details and a further 15% had fathers living at a different home address to the mother.

Of all babies born in 2015, 17.5% (10,697) were reliant on a main benefit by the end of their birth year, over two thirds on a single parent benefit. Over half had Maori parents/caregivers.

The higher poverty rates for Maori and Pasifika children are reflected in the greater number of sole parent and cohabiting families.

Rapidly changing family structure has contributed significantly to increasing income inequality.

Child poverty is consistently blamed on unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and inadequate social security benefits. Little attention has been given to family structure.

Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.

It is no coincidence that the increase in sole parenting and the educational, financial, health and other social problems associated with it, started with the increase of benefit dependence:

While child poverty also occurs among two parent families, its severity and longevity tend to differ, primarily because two parent families generally derive their income from the market which is subject to fluctuations; single parents are more likely to derive their income from a benefit 17 which is reasonably static and not subject to market fluctuations. Ironically, while benefit income is more secure, market income is more likely to improve over time. . . 

Benefits for most people are supposed to provide temporary support until they are able to look after themselves. Most people in paid work are able to earn more through pay increases and as they gain more experience, better qualifications.

Before the Domestic Purposes Benefit, people were trapped in abusive, dysfunctional and desperately unhappy marriages.

The DPB enabled people, usually but not always mothers, to get out of those relationships and most don’t stay dependent on it for long. But it also enabled people, again usually but not always women, to have children without supportive partners- in both the emotional and financial sense.

. . . a trend towards the formation of de facto relationships began, as did the increasing incidence of un-partnered mothers keeping and raising their children alone. Separating the two patterns poses substantial difficulties but was attempted by Kaye Goodger in 1998 (see graph below). 34 Of particular interest are the lines labelled “ex-nuptial children retained by single mothers” and “ex-nuptial births with no resident father”. The number grew from a few hundred in the early 1960s to around 13,000 by 1996, representing more than half of all ex-nuptial births.  . .

It takes two people to make a baby but too often one is left to bring the child up without the help of a spouse and ex

Frequently, young un-partnered mothers fall into what MSD research describes as the “early starter” group of sole parents who, “…appeared to be particularly disadvantaged. Half of them lived in high deprivation areas with a New Zealand Deprivation Index (NZDep) rating of 9 or 10. Levels of debt to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Special Needs Grant use suggest that many struggled to cope financially.” 46

In 2005, this group accounted for 45 percent of all the children dependent on the DPB.These particular children will often be subject to the long-term deprivation associated with sole parents who are chronically or repeatedly single.47 Their mothers may view a benefit as more reliable than, and preferable to, a partner. Yet being ‘without a current partner’ has been classified as a risk factor for child vulnerability by the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study.48 It is also associated with other low socio-economic risk factors. . . 

But too often, adding a partner to the mix endangers the children.

At November 2011, 26,000 women receiving the DPB had included additional new-born children: 20 percent had added 1 more child; 6 percent added two; 2 percent had added 3 subsequent children and 1 percent had added four or more.49 Each percentage point equates to almost 900 mothers. Between 2006 and 2010 this amounted to an annual average of 4,190 subsequent children (or 7% of average annual total births over same period) added to a sole parent benefit. Only 610 were added to other main benefits.  . . 

In conclusion, an extended explanation of this particular pathway into sole parenthood has been provided because children who appear in the benefit system from birth – or shortly thereafter – form a particularly disadvantaged group. The rate of early child benefit-dependence through un-partnered birth appears to have been declining very slowly since the early 1990s. This coincides with general child poverty rates (see p 7). The exposure of these children to low income is prolonged because their mothers became dependent very young without educational qualifications or work experience and leaving welfare poses numerous challenges. . . 

This is why the government is  putting so much effort, and money, into working with young single parents. Helping them look after their babies, gain qualifications and get work is the best way out of poverty.

With the decline in marriage has come an increase in cohabitation. Some of these relationships lead to marriage and some last longer than some marriages, but:

In 1995, New Zealand research found:

“About 46 percent of cohabiting first unions aged 20-59 were converted into a marriage, and 44 percent were dissolved (11 percent were still intact at the time of survey). Of those that were either dissolved or converted into a marriage, over 90 percent did so in the first five years.” 61

In line with this, the Christchurch Child Development Study found that cohabitation is a foremost risk factor for breakdown of a child’s family in its first five years with 43.9 percent of de facto couples separating compared to 10.9 percent of married parents.62 Not dissimilar statistics were produced by the Jubilee Centre which analysed data from the United Kingdom Longitudinal Study63 and showed:

“For cohabiting parents, the child’s earliest years are a time of disproportionate risk, with 37 percent of couples separating by the time the child is five compared with less than 6 percent of married couples – more than a six-fold difference. By the time the child is 16, 16 percent of married couples will have separated, compared to 66 percent of cohabiting couples – a four-fold difference.” . . 

The report quotes research which shows families where the parents are in a defacto relationship are poorer than those with married parents.

In New Zealand, according to MSD, “A Household Savings Survey (HSS) carried out in 2001 revealed clear relationships between savings, in the form of net assets, and legal marital status, family size, family type, and age. The net worth of couples living in the same household varied considerably according to whether they were legally married or not. The median net worth of all married couples was $201,400 compared with $49,500 for all unmarried couples (age-standardised data are unavailable).” 73 . . .

Higher annual before tax incomes (from all sources) for married couples are evident. Larger proportions of de facto people appear in the low income groups, while in the higher income groups de facto numbers drop away quite sharply.

The income differences for New Zealand couples are not as stark as in the US. This may be, at least partially, a result of Working for Families (WFF). Income redistribution through the tax/benefit system reduces the difference between rich and poor – so to some extent, between married and unmarried couples. WFF is a substantial transfer. The New Zealand Initiative describes how “…cash benefits exceeded direct tax paid on average for each of these [lowest] five deciles.” 74

There is another important point to be made. Not only are cohabiting parents generally poorer, given their greater propensity for separation, financial resources available for children post-dissolution are also more limited. Again the risk of child poverty is heightened. . .

The report goes on to look at ethnic breakdown and the role of unemployment.

It then notes:

Just as family structure plays a significant role in the incidence and degree of child poverty, so it does in levels of inequality of income and wealth across New Zealand society. The two go hand-in-hand. In the matter of inequality, most attention is paid to unemployment, market forces, so-called “neoliberal” policies, labour market deregulation and the shortcomings of capitalism in general. In New Zealand at least, little interest has been taken in the role of family structure. The closest to acknowledging the role of family structure was a 2013 report from the NZ Institute for Economic Research (NZIER) which claimed: “The distribution of income in New Zealand and around the OECD became more unequal after the 1960s as societies became more liberal and households changed.” 102 . . 

Then it concludes:

This paper has demonstrated the clear differences between incomes in married, de facto and sole parent families with children. Though child poverty has more dimensions than income alone, the links between household finances and material deprivation are important. Yet, in the very many discussions and reports about child poverty, the elephant in the room – family structure – is constantly ignored. Unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and insufficient social security benefits are consistently blamed for child poverty yet a major culprit (if not the major culprit) is family malformation, that is, a lack of two married committed parents.

There are at least three belief systems which have heavily influenced social science thinking, which in turn influences policy-making, which in turn influences public behaviours. The direction in which these influences operate may be fluid and certainly there is something of the ‘chicken and egg’ phenomenon at work. For instance, unmarried childbirth began to rise prior to the advent of the DPB. But it accelerated rapidly in its wake.

The three relevant ideologies at work since 1961 have been feminism; socialism and moral relativism.

Feminism sought to increase the choices and freedoms of women (but may have inadvertently overlooked those of their children). The ‘feminisation of poverty’, the idea that women are the disproportionately poor gender – and not just in developing countries – is sound and has led directly to greater child poverty. Replacing reliance on a male partner with reliance on the state ‘partner’ has not enriched those mothers.

Socialism sought to equalise incomes of people through state redistribution of wealth (yet would appear to have increased child poverty). Welfare payments that were generous relative to unskilled wages have undermined the formation and maintenance of parental relationships and trapped generations of families on benefits.

Moral relativism sought to suspend moral judgments about people’s decisions and behaviours regardless of contribution to poor personal and societal outcomes, especially for children.

The political left – though the left/right divide has become less distinct in New Zealand – tends to most strongly adhere to these belief systems and resists evidence that their application is failing.

To identify marriage as beneficial for the outcomes of children necessarily criticises other forms of partnerships so, in the eyes of many, must be avoided. Offence to any group or class seems undesirable no matter how much the negative impact might be on children.

There may be a legitimate fear of discrimination among bureaucrats constrained by human rights legislation? There may be a resistance to recognising the positive economic role of marriage in a secular country? . . 

For politicians there’s a fear of expressing support for marriage because it just sounds fusty and unfashionable (excepting same-sex marriage). Accusations of ‘social engineering’ might be levelled.

Examples of the US promoting marriage through government policy could be raised as a distinctly unwelcome spectre. Many New Zealanders harbour anti-American sentiments.

It is not the intention of this paper to explore at length why marriage has fallen out of favour with most social science academics and policy-makers.

The aim has been to show that marriage provides the best economic environment for raising children. The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

The paper doesn’t go into why families with married parents have better outcomes nor show if other factors are relevant. Are there, for examples, differences in the education, employment and family support of people who choose to marry and those who don’t which could influence outcomes?

Marriage doesn’t guarantee successful outcomes for the couple and their children, nor do de facto relationships and solo parenting guarantee failure.

However, this paper shows that families with married parents are more likely to succeed than the others. They also need only one house.

The media has been full of stories of homeless people.

Among them have been the mother of eight children facing huge debts and at-risk youth engaging in sex to get somewhere to sleep.

These reports only ever tell a very small part of the story and rarely ask, let alone answer, how the people got into these dire situations and where are the children’s father or fathers and extended families.

As Martin van Beynen says:

The current weeping, wailing and gross over-simplification of the problems at the root of violence and dysfunction will not achieve anything. . .

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. . . 

The state is a very poor substitute for families and many, though not all, of the examples that reach the media demonstrate what happens when people claim their rights without accepting responsibility.

92 Responses to State poor substitute for families

  1. JC says:

    What usually happens after reports like this are published is how important the exceptions and subsets become, eg, two low income and poorly educated people cohabit and raise lovely kids without want.. whats more they did it before WFF.

    This of course is quite possible with the right location and other contributing factors such as partner family histories, religion, personal sacrifice and support as required, in fact many ultimate success stories spring from just such backgrounds and are celebrated.. nevertheless these are exceptional or a sub set.



  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    Surely we should be supporting good parenting and ensuring that the environments children are brought up in are suitable (good housing, livable wages etc). Marriage will not necessarily address these. I thought this was a sound response:


  3. Andrei says:

    The sacred institution of marriage did not arise in a vacuum

    The idea that a man and a women pledge themselves together for life came into being because this led to the optimum results when it came to raising the next generation

    But the past forty years has seen marriage as an institution thoroughly trashed by our Godless politicians with no fault divorce and the latest abomination “gay marriage” which of course is Satanic and the end of the West


  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Good grief!


  5. Andrei says:

    Surely we should be supporting good parenting and ensuring that the environments children are brought up in are suitable (good housing, livable wages etc). Marriage will not necessarily address these.

    Good Grief indeed Dave Kennedy!

    Paris Hilton, for example, was brought up in great privilege a totally suitable environment by your criteria and yet…

    It is not material things that produce well rounded, socialized individuals who contribute positively to the society in which they live – it is something else entirely

    And in my view the foundation for success in this life (which again is not necessarily material) is laid in the first years of an individuals life in a family in which they feel secure – even if the roof leaks and mama has to wash the babies nappies by hand


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, what produces “well rounded, socialized individuals who contribute positively to the society in which they live” is a combination of many factors and materials things are only one part and they do have an impact. Read my comment again and you will note that the first thing i listed was good parenting.

    There is an issue in our society now, however, that those who have the prime responsibility of looking after our children are often the most vulnerable financially. Young parents are less likely to be on high incomes and have high levels of debt. Financial pressures are a major stress on relationships and is one contributing factor (a major one according to a marriage guidance counsellor I know) to broken relationships, marriages and domestic violence. 25% of our children live in sole parent households and most of those have a mother as the main caregiver. Women tend to earn far less than men and the part time jobs needed by working mothers are generally the lowest paid ones.

    It was even hard financially on my wife and I (as professionals with good incomes) when we chose to focus on being good parents and both reduced our work to part time so that our young children had a parent at home for most of the time. Those on low wages do not have that flexibility and are forced to make heavy use of expensive childcare (only partly state funded) which means less time on parenting.

    Single parents need strong support networks but when affordable housing is in short supply they are often forced to move away from their support networks or share accommodation in substandard situations. High transience amongst our poor has become common as they continually move as rents increase beyond their means. Many have to shift to increasingly poorer conditions to fit their static budgets.

    Being a good parent on a minimum income is problematic when you can only afford an unhealthy home. There are fewer choices when you are poor and children do suffer from material deprivation too.


  7. Andrei says:

    Dave Kennedy we live in a society whose values are in the toilet – and your favoured party is one of the groups that have pushed them there with its promotion of paganism.

    What is even worse not one of your repulsive candidates can win a seat in Parliament on their own merits but they get to push their Godless agendas on us all

    Agendas which help destroy families and make people poorer

    You should be thoroughly ashamed of being associated with them


  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    “we live in a society whose values are in the toilet – and your favoured party is one of the groups that have pushed them there with its promotion of paganism.”
    Andrei, what a load of nonsense. I agree that neo-liberal economics has seen the glorification of money and the rights of rich individuals before compassion and caring for the most vulnerable, but lets get some facts clear:

    This speech of Russel Norman’s in 2011 is one of the most viewed in parliament and it promotes a return to the core values espoused by Christianity.

    We are one of the few parties that bases our policies and activities around values and principles and our Spirit Green network contains a large number of Christians who sees our values closely aligned to theirs. One of the leaders of our local Green Branch is also a prominent leader in the local Christian community. We are not a Christian party but our values base clearly attracts many who are.

    I have no idea how you define paganism but if you think that our concern for the environment makes us pagans then you need consider what the current pope is saying about the environment and the teachings of St Francis of Assisi.

    If you also think that giving those from the GLBTI the same human rights as anyone else is paganistic then you need to address the unnecessary suffering experienced by that community through no fault of their own.

    If you are looking at the pain and suffering being experienced by unnecessary conflict overseas then the Greens are the most proactive in viewing these wars for what they are and attempting to address the persecution of Palestinians, the genocide in Western Papua and the ongoing injustices in East Timor.

    Families come in multiple forms and what ever we do it should be the fate and care of the children within them that should be our main focus. Marriage is not a magic bullet to ensure the best outcomes for children, strong and well supported ‘families’ will do that. Please watch this young man explain what should be the definition of a good family, powerful stuff:

    I would love to see a list of our godless agendas that we promoted in the last campaign.

    Some terrible things have been done in the world by leaders of Christian churches. I believe that there are Christian values that Christ lived by and taught and the religious values that are corruptions of Christ’s that have led to unnecessary persecutions and abuse. The tone and judgmental nature of your comments i wonder where your beliefs lie.


  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    Oops, the tone and judgmental nature of your comments make me wonder where your beliefs lie.


  10. Andrei says:

    This speech of Russel Norman’s in 2011 is one of the most viewed in parliament and it promotes a return to the core values espoused by Christianity.

    Well there’s fifteen minutes I wont be getting back – Sigh!

    Dr Russel Norman is no theologian and that’s a fact

    Anyway to the topic at hand – What did Jesus Christ say about marriage – you can find this in Matthew 19

    3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

    4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

    5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    There is no ambiguity in that – is there?

    The point is Dave Kennedy, putting aside theology for the moment, that culturally a man has to take responsibility for the children he has sired and there is both a carrot and a stick to make him do this

    The carrot is that a man taking care of his own is held in esteem for doing so and takes pride and joy from this task

    The stick is that he is obliged by law to take financial responsibility and will be punished by the law if he fails to do so

    No fault divorce has upended this making the commitment to raise a family a risky business for a male who can have his life ruined by his wife unilaterally ending the marriage (it can go the other way by 90% of the time it is the female who ends the relationship)

    Marriage should be a very solemn and serious thing with no easy out for either party once the commitment is made

    And so it was fifty years ago when 80% of marriages were celebrated in Church and divorces were both rare and shameful


  11. Andrei says:

    Please watch this young man explain what should be the definition of a good family, powerful stuff:

    I watched – it was politics, pure and simple

    That young man has a father who has taken no responsibility whatsoever for the raising of that young man.

    Fine – he comes from a “family” of wealthy, privileged, Iowan lesbians who no doubt were in a position to give him everything he needed materially and he can play the game before the Iowan assembly with emotive rhetoric to advance a political agenda – elitist tosh

    But this is not the case for the majority – what he says is certainly not true in Cannons Creek.

    What he is saying is that a man can avoid taking responsibility for his offspring by wanking into a jar and giving the product anonymously to well heeled lesbians

    All of this is a self indulgent, wealthy elite behaving badly to the detriment of society at large


  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, it is clear that I won’t change your fundamentalist and patriarchal views. I do agree that the parents of all children should take their responsibility seriously but a widow can’t help the fact that her husband may have been killed in an accident. The reality is that throughout history not all husbands could live up to the role you claim that they should fulfill, many are better absent and not all marriages are good for the children.

    The family benefit had to be brought in to ensure that stay at home mothers had enough money to look after her children as not all fathers managed their wages well. In the past many women were trapped in highly abusive relationships because they were financially dependent on men. Thank goodness this terrible trap no longer exists.

    I do think that we need to work harder and keeping families together. and provide dysfunctional relationships with support (a pity National killed of Relationships Aotearoa).

    Looking after children properly used to be the role of communities as well as families and for all those children who deserve to be cared for properly, we just need to do the best that we collectively can…but currently we don’t, hence our shocking child welfare statistics.


  13. Name Withheld says:

    If you also think that giving those from the GLBTI the same human rights as anyone else is paganistic then you need to address the unnecessary suffering experienced by that community through no fault of their own.
    Looking after children properly used to be the role of communities as well as families and for all those children who deserve to be cared for properly,

    You’re sure as hell not going to get both under the lunatic political idealogy that you subscribe to, Mr Kennedy.

    A few weeks into my stay, I returned to find a number of women in distress. Reportedly, one woman had even fled the shelter in terror.
    What was wrong? What was the uproar about? An answer soon followed: The shelter had admitted a man who “self-identified” as a woman. No doubt this was not a first for the shelter; it was, however, a first for those of us who were relative newcomers.

    Your ideal is to create a borderless world of genderless individuals.
    How do you think that will end?

    Your liberal logic.

    Looking after children?.


  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, you attribute lots of stuff to me and the Greens that is just emotive nonsense and, given your links, you have a very narrow, bigoted view of the issues confronted by the GLBTI community. A world of genderless individuals is not physically or emotionally possible and is a ridiculous idea.

    This thread is actually about what creates the most stable and supportive environments for kids and good caring parents come from a range of people and backgrounds. Traditional heterosexual marriages have produced some shocking families too, marriage in itself isn’t the solution.


  15. Andrei says:

    Traditional heterosexual marriages have produced some shocking families too, marriage in itself isn’t the solution.

    True enough Dave Kennedy but those children raised in traditional homes with their biological parents are far less likely to find themselves on the wrong side of the law and far more likely to lead successful and fulfilling lives and are far less likely to suffer physical and sexual abuse.

    The evidence for this is unequivocal

    You can highlight the exceptions, point to the pathological but it wont change a thing

    And here is the thing old chum – people who think you can change the world and usher in nirvana by legislation fail every time and usually exacerbate the problems they are trying to solve in the process and create new ones e.g. Prohibition in the USA led to violence and organized crime, along with many poisoning deaths from bootlegged alcohol

    People are free agents with free will and will not conform to standards developed by chinless wonders in ivory towers

    Has no fault divorce led to a decrease in domestic violence or has it perhaps perversely led to an increase?

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again Traditional marriage which has existed for millennia exists because it has proved to be the most effective and equitable way of raising the next generation to be socialized and productive members of the societies in which they live

    And the hubris of the politicians who have taken it upon themselves to rewrite it to pander to vocal minorities to advance their agendas is something that we should all treat with the utter contempt it deserves


  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, did you know that when ice-cream sales are highest there is also an increase in burglaries? It is because most burglars prefer to operate in good weather.

    It is dangerous to make assumptions about data without evidence and Dunedin’s internationally regarded longitudinal research on human behaviour will give you the information about the causes of behaviour. I note that you provided no evidence to support your claims.

    I think you will find that parents’ incomes and education have a much stronger correlation to positive outcomes for children than marriage.

    If you actually took the time to read Green policies, most are focussed on creating support and environments to enable people and families to become more self-sufficient and for communities to have more input into meeting their own needs. Our school hub policy is a useful way of supporting families and identifying at risk children early.

    If you studied anthropology and looked at the most stable and cohesive communities that are good for kids you will find that marriage isn’t the most important element. The best environments for kids are consistent and stable ones (transience is damaging) and having strong extended family connections and support.

    I was lucky to grow up in a rural community where families had lived for generations and we looked out for each other, especially any sole parent or struggling family. Most earned enough money on a single income to buy the essentials and most mothers stayed at home during the early years of their children’s lives.

    Our sense of community has been broken down when the focus has become economic and the value of wages has been driven down. The rural communities are no longer stable and Gypsy Day sees around 1/4 of families shift away.

    We need a change of culture where the importance of parenting is given proper status and recognition and we all take responsibility for caring for the children in our communities. The design of new housing developments should focus on building connected communities and existing communities that struggle need professional people like nurses and well trained social workers to support the strengthening of families.

    Also we should celebrate diversity! Your idea that everyone should conform to the idea of heterosexual Christian marriage would need the sort of fundamentalist dictatorial approach that would be little different to Muslim fundamentalists. By 2038 European New Zealanders will be in the minority. By then it is predicted that 51% of the country will be Asian, Maori or Pasifika. In Auckland alone there are now over 200 different ethnicities and 160 different languages are spoke.

    Many of these other cultures have far better child health and welfare outcomes than ours. Some shocking things have been done to children in NZ through our churches (you must have seen the endless documentaries of institutionalised abuse that has occurred here). We would do much better if we embraced some of the practices other cultures have in bringing up their kids. In Southland the growing numbers of Filipino families have impressed with their community involvement and the high attainment levels of their children in our schools.

    Your views are not based on logic or the realities of the real world.


  17. Andrei says:

    Some shocking things have been done to children in NZ through our churches (you must have seen the endless documentaries of institutionalised abuse that has occurred here).

    Yes I have seen attacks on the Roman Catholic Church over some events from days gone by

    And near silence over things like the WINZ guy in a boys home who locked up boys in solitary confinement then sodomized them – a State Official Dave Kennedy

    When I came here as a child and started school the same day I started a Lettish boy who had traveled with us started the same day and because we sort of knew each other and nobody else we came together as it were

    About three days after we started he said something to me and I replied.

    The teacher dragged us to the front of the class and laid into me with a strap – I thought the bastard would never stop hitting me but he did and then took to the Lettish boy who pissed his pants

    And when he had finished thrashing that boy he pushed him to the floor and rubbed his face in the puddle – this was a good
    Kiwi protestant state primary school teacher Dave Kennedy so cut the crap about the Church OK – don’t be such a dork


  18. Andrei says:


  19. Name Withheld says:

    you have a very narrow, bigoted view
    Bigots are everywhere!.

    You be careful out there Mr Kennedy lest you become “offended” again.


  20. Will says:

    “Gypsy Day sees 1/4 of families shift away.”

    Is there nothing you can’t blame on dairy farming?


  21. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei I am not defending any group that offends against kids, my point was that your fundamentalist Christian views won’t solve the problem. We all have a duty to look after our kids and most us us have been failing according to our shocking statistics. CYFs and WINZ have clearly failed and many schools (especially the Charter ones) are struggling too.

    Will, are you saying that the industry doesn’t have a high level of transience? The front page of the Southland times was full of it today and I taught in a school where 25% of the kids moved out and new ones arrived halfway through the year. Some of the kids had experienced a new school every year and having to make friends halfway through. Are you disputing my facts?

    It isn’t just the dairy industry but that is one that i have first hand experience of.


  22. Andrei says:


    Andrei I am not defending any group that offends against kids, my point was that your fundamentalist Christian views won’t solve the problem. We all have a duty to look after our kids and most us us have been failing according to our shocking statistics.

    No Dave Kennedy – most of us are not failing

    The disasters occur in disfunctional setups where one or both of the child’s biological parents are absent.

    And nor am I a “fundamentalist bigot” – I don’t give a damn how other people live their lives

    But you dense fool the sacred institution of marriage is about providing a framework whereby the vast majority of children are raised by both of their biological parents working together cooperatively

    And I challenge you to find one case of a child murdered by his or her biological father living with his or her biological mother

    We know the ghastly stories, the names of infamy and time after time it is the child of a mother with multiple children from different fathers now with yet another man who is generally the culprit

    And you being completely dopey want to encourage this by subsidiizing this lifestyle with my money while degrading the very institution which developed to prevent it into a State sanctioned blessing for unnatural, non fecund sexual relationships


  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    “And I challenge you to find one case of a child murdered by his or her biological father living with his or her biological mother”
    A quick Google search found these:
    Craig Manukau, 11 years old. His mother tuned the radio volume up full, to drown out the noise while his father kicked him to death.
    Jeanette Rikihana, 5 months old, murdered by her father Soulan James Pownceby, an Olympic boxer. Her injuries included severe bruising to the head, including a cracked skull, and internal bruising. Pownceby was charged with murder, however the jury at his murder trial ruled that he was not guilty of murder but was guilty of manslaughter. Powceby was sentenced to four years in jail.
    Amber Grace Lundy, 7 years old, killed by her own father who repeatedly struck her on the back of the head with a tomahawk. Mark Lundy, a 43 year old salesman was convicted of Amber’s murder and also the murder of her mother Christine Lundy. Lundy was jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, which was later increased to 20 years following an unsuccessful appeal.
    Rocky Wano, 15 came home for Christmas. His father angered at finding him drunk when called to pick him up from the local Marae, kicked him to death.

    Also mothers, uncles, aunties and step fathers and siblings have all been implicated in deaths.

    Again child abuse often continues because the community a child lives in, and the agencies concerned, do not act on their knowledge. You are also more likely to find that most children’s deaths occur in families where there is a history of dysfunction.

    It is easy to judge mothers and fathers as to the reasons for their failures and for most of them a marriage will not solve their problems. What we should be focussing on is breaking the cycle of dysfunction as has been identified in the CYFs reports and in the many reports of domestic violence that the police deal with on a daily basis.

    Most abusers were abused themselves.

    Here is a scenario:
    A sole mother (with a history of having been abused herself) who was responsible for three children under 5 years by different fathers, and whose extended family lived in Auckland, found herself homeless – What support should she have and who should provide it?

    I would be interested in your response.


  24. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, I acknowledge that it is off topic, but in response to your suggestion that I pick on the dairy industry, even I haven’t been as harsh a critic as the ex-president of Wanganui Federated Farmers:


  25. Gravedodger says:

    [Deleted – Several comments in recent weeks have crossed the line into invective and this was the last straw. I don’t want that even if it’s about someone found guilty of a crime].

    I often find my beliefs at odds with Andrei’s dogmatic views but on the evolvement of the Judeo Christian marriage as a creation of a stable safe environment for the raising of children, I am in complete agreement.
    When compared to the chaotic, dysfunctional socialist creation of multiple fathers creating spawn with whomever will allow impregnation and reverting to feral behaviors in attitude to the young of another sire by elimination.
    Just as with Churchills summation of democracy when he suggested such a basis for governance was not perfect until compared to all others, marriage in the Judeo Christian model is quite similar.


  26. homepaddock says:

    Some of the last comment was deleted because it was the last straw, though probably no worse than some others recently which have been personal and while this was on-topic, lots aren’t.

    Strong opinions are fine but personal invective isn’t and while slight diversions can be okay total derailing onto other topics isn’t.


  27. Mr E says:

    The solution is commitment and responsibility. Marriage – regardless of religion, sexual orientation, or culture seems to be helpful towards commitment and responsibility.

    For reasons people are losing the value of commitment and responsibility.

    I think there are areas we can focus on.

    Education. Our parents educators need to teach commitment and responsibility. I doubt our current education systems are set up to maximise this.

    Penalties for irresponsibility. I think the Government needs to impose tougher penalties for irresponsible parents. Take for example child support – Non payments of child support can have penalties of as little as ‘nothing’ if payment arrangements are made. If arrangements are not made, penalties can be as little as 1%.
    That is not accountability in my opinion.


  28. Dave Kennedy says:

    Many of you are describing the ideal environment to bring up kids, but none of you are addressing what we need to do for the 200,000-300,000 children who are already living in substandard conditions now. Also how do we move from the current situation to a better one and who should lead it.

    It is my belief that the Government are our elected representatives that should be taking a lead on providing the best support for the most vulnerable in our wider community. This was recognised by Richard Seddon back in 1905 and was first broken away from in 1991. The social housing for the most vulnerable ceased to be increased since then and the current shortfall of around 20-30,000 houses is the result. The average cost of a house in Auckland is now almost $1 million dollars and rents are increasing far faster than wages. Something urgent needs to be done and providing more land for developers isn’t the answer.


  29. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Education. Our parents educators need to teach commitment and responsibility. I doubt our current education systems are set up to maximise this.”

    This has happened so often in education recently, where a valuable scheme has its funding cut with the promise of something better to replace it. It generally doesn’t happen. Our Special Needs funding has been cut and the promised “wrap around services” never happened. Early childhood education funding has been effectively cut, forcing more costs on parents and increasing the numbers of non-qualified teachers.

    If you want programmes to be successful you have to fund them appropriately.

    I guess it is much cheaper to blame the families and parents for their failings and wash our hands of the problem. According to commenters here, this isn’t the Governments problem and when NGOs and communities can’t cope then it is just too hard to solve. Meanwhile the rich live in their secluded communities and make comments like “why have children if you can’t afford them”. It now appears that if you live in many parts of the country around 50% of our families can no longer afford kids. For many when they originally had their kids they could afford them but when the costs of rentals increase beyond their wages, what are they to do? Ridiculous!


  30. Dave Kennedy says:

    I take issue with the suggestion that the Greens and “socialists” support “feral behaviours” in relation to families. There are far more scandals around the world regarding inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst Conservative politicians than Green ones. The Green Party especially promotes the idea of stable families and healthy homes and yet our warrant of fitness idea for rentals has been opposed strongly. No other party has as many family focussed policies then the Greens.

    GD, you are opening Pandoras box if you start looking at the morality that is reflect by different parties.


  31. Dave Kennedy says:

    75% of surveyed New Zealanders believe that the Government is failing in the area of housing and these two articles sum up that growing view:'s-housing-plan-moronic-economist


  32. Mr E says:

    When something is not working often a change in approach is better than throwing new money at a problem.

    Good government is about spending taxes effectively. If exisiting programmes are not working they need rethought.

    Throwing money at problems can create more problems.

    Throwing money at education won’t solve concerns around efficacy of philosophies.

    Children need to learn to become responsible for choices. We have gradually moved to a system where children don’t understand the outcomes of choices.

    We also have many kids who watch their parents abscond from their parental responsibilities with little repercussion. Parents who fail on child support are not judged by our systems. They should be IMO.

    No extra money is needed to sort those issues. Just logic.


  33. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, I have never suggested just throwing money at a problem but most of our social services are currently seriously over stretched because of funding shortages.

    The number of people on our streets at the moment haven’t been seen since depression times and yet unemployment is relatively low and we are not experiencing a depression. We also have a severe housing shortage.

    I posed a question earlier that no one has been brave enough to answer, I wonder why that is? Here it is again:
    “A sole mother (with a history of having been abused herself) who was responsible for three children under 5 years by different fathers, and whose extended family lived in Auckland, found herself homeless – What support should she have and who should provide it?”

    In times gone by she would have been provided a state house. A social worker may be assigned to help with support and advice and a training allowance was available for her to gain skills for a good paying job. Statistically most sole parents used to end up being able to support themselves and shift out of welfare support.

    Today she is likely to end up in a car or a garage. If she is lucky she may get a motel but eventually will have to pay back the majority of the costs of that accommodation. If she wants to save money she will have to shift back to the car again. If she has no fixed address there is a limit to the assistance she can access. There is now a wait for up to two years before a state house may come available.

    The current welfare system traps struggling families into a life of day to day living and transiency. There is not so much a “hand up” support system that will give children some opportunities to break the cycle of poverty but a trap of endless shifting for cheap housing, low paid jobs and being judged for their situation. The research below is worth a read and explains the reality now.

    Click to access a089328f5be.pdf

    You didn’t answered my question Mr E and you just blame the parents and damn the children to lives of deprivation. You seem to think that most who end up needing support are failing in their responsibilities or duty of care when this is not true. For every story of hopelessness (and there is often a reason for this) there is a story of good people who are down on their luck. Your lack of compassion is astounding, but not surprising any more.


  34. Will says:

    My eldest daughter and her fiance both have training, skills, and well paid jobs. They have no children yet. They live in a small boat, while struggling to save for a house. They pay awful amounts of tax, have done everything right, but are still miles away from owning a home.

    Why should someone with three kids to different fathers, no job, living off the taxpayer just waltz into a state provided house? Why reward her bad choices and punish good behaviour? This sort of thing is creating toxic outcomes.


  35. Mr E says:

    “you just blame the parents and damn the children to lives of deprivation.”

    Oh the damnation I cast. My comments were just dripping with it. Dripping.

    “You seem to think that most who end up needing support are failing in their responsibilities or duty of care when this is not true.”

    Jeepers did I cast down those that need support. Condemned them, I did. Somewhere in those remarks. Somewhere.

    “Your lack of compassion is astounding, but not surprising any more.”

    Oh yes, my suggestings were utterly compassionless. Wanting children to be taught responsibility, and parents to be held accountable for responsibilities – that is hateful. What was I thinking….

    I am thinking I am wasting my breath here. Wasting it.


  36. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, you really do need to read the Dunedin research.

    What you are essentially saying is that a young woman born into a dysfunctional family (luck), who was abused as a child (very common but still our of her control), and didn’t do well at school because her family didn’t value education and changed schools often (very common, but still not her fault), then ended up in a series of bad relationships (no good ones in her life on which model a good one) and has low self esteem or self determination (a common result of he abuse and upbringing) should then be forced to suffer the consequences of her life direction, and poorly informed choices, and live in a car or on the streets until she somehow develops the skills and confidence to do otherwise. Her children will also experience that same life and continue the cycle.

    In Celia Lashlie’s book ‘The Power of Mothers’ she talks about the damaged and desperate women she got to know in prison and the shocking lives they had endured. With just a little compassion and kindness and a bit of mentoring many could become good mums and make positive contributions to society.

    I’m sure your daughter and fiance had childhoods and educational experiences that set them up with the skills and confidence to suceed. Remember that the first five years create the foundation for the life of the future adult. Some people can lift themselves from some pretty dire beginnings, but the fact is most don’t. If you have a shitty beginning in your life, according to the internationally regarded Dunedin research of 1000 people, there is a high probability that the rest of your life won’t go that well.

    I am personal quite happy that a portion of my taxes goes to housing and supporting families that haven’t had the same opportunities I have had. I think all children should be provided with the opportunities my children had so that they can become assets to society and have some real choices in life. They shouldn’t have to also pay the price for their mother’s background and poor choices.

    As we did for decades before, providing all those in need with a warm dry home (not a palace) should be a minimum expectation. It would also save the health and justice system a good deal of money, so is cost effective too.

    Your idea of teaching that young mother a lesson by not providing what she needs is hardly going to end well and the damage to the children concerned will probably ensure another generation continues on the same sad path.

    Did you hear this mother’s story (she is an educated working mother with a sick child and even she could get support)?


  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops even she ‘couldn’t’ get support.


  38. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, I would really love you to explain to me how you can hold a parent accountable for their lack of education and poverty without negatively impacting on the children? You claim it needs no extra money, “just logic”.

    That is such an easy thing to say, I challenge you to explain the logical way of managing a homeless family without some investment of money.

    Over to you.


  39. Will says:

    You remind me of my shepherding youth Dave, when all our time and resources went into our least productive, most troublesome ewes. It took four of us working from dawn to dusk to produce results that would be considered a failure today. Now it’s just me on my own, with a high performance, easy-care flock. The farm would not survive financially using those old methods. Makes you wonder what kind of society the ‘caring’ Left would bring about in the long run.

    You like to talk about sustainability, but you may be the most short-term thinker I have ever encountered.


  40. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, I cannot believe that you are comparing the care of our citizens with stock management. I had thought more of you before.

    If a farmer has animals that are clearly not thriving, and will be an economic drain (you don’t want to buy in feed for animals that won’t be profitable), then they generally become dog tucker or are otherwise disposed off. To suggest the similar treatment of struggling citizens is quite abhorrent.

    Clearly one can’t euthanise people in the same way we do with animals, so you must then mean that we shouldn’t invest any public money in their care. Of course that will mean a sudden surge of thousands of people living rough around the country and children begging on the streets. This was what used to happen 150 years ago and I don’t think it was considered sustainable. I suggest you read John A Lee’s books ‘Children of the Poor’ and ‘The Hunted’ to get an idea of what it was like before we provided support for struggling families. Many survived on crime and prostitution.

    You must not realise that the budget for corrections and imprisoning more people is costing tax payers around $50 million extra every year ($100,000 a year for each prisoner). The resulting crime wave of a large number of people who have no other means of survival will be a huge cost to our justice and corrections budgets.

    You clearly don’t realise that in the past that MOST families needing welfare support (unless its WFF as a wage subsidy) don’t rely on it permanently, it just supports them through a difficult patch. If we invest in our families and kids in the early years when they are most vulnerable it means that they are more likely to do well and we will end up having more productive and useful citizens. If you deny struggling families health care, the resulting health issues will also be a drain on our economy.

    It seems we see welfare in different ways, you clearly regard social support as an uneconomic ‘hand out’ and should be stopped, while I regard a properly funded welfare system as a ‘hand up’ where the ultimate goal is independence from state support.

    Obviously I am talking about those who can eventually support themselves but you haven’t suggested what we should do with people who have major disabilities and serious health issues etc. I know what a farmer would do to stock in these situations…are you suggesting the same…?


  41. Will says:

    I don’t suggest euthanasia for poor performers, do you take me for a Fabian Socialist? But, on the farm, I certainly don’t encourage poor animals to breed at the expense of good ones.


  42. Paranormal says:

    The issue as Ele points out is society has incentivised breeding and removed any sembalnce of personal responsibility. Anyone with that many kids must have been able to work out what was causing it.

    Chester Borrows says what the majority of caring New Zealanders think – obviously (TM) not including those who want to grow an underclass indentured voting base though:


  43. Mr E says:


    “Mr E, I would really love you to explain to me how you can hold a parent accountable for their lack of education and poverty”

    I would really love you to explain to me why you think I would need to explain that. It is quite clearly not part of the points I raised above.

    So no, I will not be explaining anything of the sort.

    “I challenge you to explain the logical way of managing a homeless family without some investment of money.”

    We need to ensure the poor are receiving their entitlements fairly. Many are not. Many are missing out on entitlements because of the actions of others. That needs to be stopped immediately.

    I thought I made a couple of my example opinions clear. Here it is again with a little more detail .

    Child support payment rejig.
    Less than 68% of child support payments are made on time.
    At the end of 2014 3.2 billion dollars of child support were owed
    At the end of 2014 90% of liable parents were in debt. In debt to IRD. In debt to the receiving carer. In debt to the child. In debt 3.2 billion. 3.2 billion that in my view is owed to children. To children Dave.

    Increase penalties for parents who do not pay child support timely Currently the penalties are a joke, and children are missing out because of it. Penatlies are so small (sometimes zero or 1%) people apparently abscond, and incrementally the penailities add up to be a lot.

    Penalties should be paid to the victim of non payment rather than retained by IRD
    Reoffending is dealt with on a scoring system. Constant reoffending is dealt with by the law.
    Foreign agreements need to be made to remove work visas from those with significant debt. Or are serial abusers of the system.

    Ultimately responsibility is learnt at a young age, and our education system is not designed to teach responsibility. A change will improve that.

    No more money – a change.


  44. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I certainly don’t encourage poor animals to breed at the expense of good ones.”
    Are you suggesting sterlisation? If not how can you stop people having kids?
    I would have thought the only way to address the problem as you see it is to stop the cycle of poverty and poor parents by making sure the children don’t end up in the same situation as adults. That would require an investment.

    Mr E, you make many assumptions, while I agree that child support payments should be followed up I think there is already a lot of effort to do this, are you suggesting spending more money on a team who has that responsibility? I guess that will also boost the prison population so that not only won’t we get the child support, we will have to spend $10,000 a year to keep them there.

    I agree with you about investing in education. The most important area is early childhood and yet that is seriously underfunded and there are fewer trained teachers. A recent ERO review of the early childhood sector had serious concerns about curriculum delivery. If you read the Early Childhood curriculum you will see how “responsibility” is covered.

    I do find it entertaining when you make strong statements and then back off when I ask you to explain them 😉


  45. Will says:

    Sterilisation did not occur to me. I can’t imagine a society that could take such liberties. Clearly you can though.

    I would suggest we pay for the first two children and no more. After that the mother should be strongly encouraged to consider contraception or adoption. Or even settling down in a committed, long-term partnership. You know, like the rest of us.

    Investment? No, you are just rewarding and encouraging fecklessness. How can you wail endlessly about child poverty and homelessness and ignore your own part in bringing it about? If we have learned just one thing about welfare, it is that we can not end poverty by giving people money. It just does not work.


  46. Gravedodger says:

    “I certainly don’t encourage poor animals to breed at the expense of good ones.”

    Gee whiz I must have missed something, I have always considered that to be an accepted if unintended consequence of welfare.

    If the feckless and idiotic cant work out that more children results in resources spread thinner when the resources are limited and the consumers are unable to do basic maths then the current socialist meme of encouraging or at least not discouraging breeding must end in tears.

    That each child born to a welfare family carries the same monetary rewards as the first must encourage subsequent breeding as economies of scale kick in.

    Sheesh Mr Kennedy you are extremely manipulative to continue to support the theory you and your equally manipulative political party perpetrate.
    Perpetrate for reasons that must have increasing your voter pool as a serious driver.
    Why else would you and your mates not see the humanitarian damage you dump on that disadvantaged subset of the species.


  47. TraceyS says:

    “If you read the Early Childhood curriculum you will see how “responsibility” is covered.”

    Covered. There’s something about that word which bothers me. Responsibility can’t be “covered”. The sort of person who would believe this is the sort who would also be misguided by the idea that a curriculum will solve any problems.


  48. Dave Kennedy says:

    “After that the mother should be strongly encouraged to consider contraception or adoption. Or even settling down in a committed, long-term partnership. You know, like the rest of us.”

    Will, you have no idea what constitutes those who need support. The fact that you would suggest that widow who ends up in difficult circumstances should be able to support all of her three children is appalling. Having the state dictate how many children a family should have is not somewhere that I would like to go.

    Surely we would be far better to focus on the proper care and support for children so that they are less likely to be trapped in the same financial situation and low aspirations of the parents. Removing children from families has often been the cause of more problems in the past (read the report on CYFs).

    You also ignore the fact that a high number of parents who are struggling financially are actually employed and are also good parents. Your attempts at tarring all with the same brush and not accepting the range of variables that contribute to poverty displays a high level of ignorance.

    I struggle to believe the lack of empathy and compassion in the comments here.


  49. Will says:

    Widow? I’m not talking about widows and you know I don’t read your endless links. Most widows have life insurance to fall back on and isn’t there a widows’ benefit? I’m talking about people women who exploit the DPB by having children they cannot support to men who won’t help raise them.


  50. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I’m talking about people women who exploit the DPB by having children they cannot support to men who won’t help raise them.”

    And I’m saying that this group is a tiny portion of social welfare spending and the numbers that remain on the benefit are lower still. You are deliberating demonising a small subsection to discredit all and deny funding to all others deserving of support.

    The extent of the problem is a myth that the likes of yourself perpetuate:

    Click to access 130402%20CPAG%20Myths%20and%20Facts.pdf

    Your refusal to read my links is the best way to ignore the evidence I provide to support my claims. You are more than welcome to provide evidence of the opposite but it appears ideology rather than fact drives your beliefs. I guess that is why we now have such an extreme Government. It would be good to return to the sort of compassionate approach that used to exist in past National Governments.


  51. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you will have to describe what you mean by ‘covered’. Getting children to learn to take responsibility for their own learning and their interactions with others is described and is an essential goal of the the learning that occurs:
    “Each child learns in his or her own way. The curriculum builds on a child’s current needs, strengths, and interests by allowing children choices and by encouraging them to take responsibility for their learning.”


  52. Paranormal says:

    DK – why do you want to carry on incentivising those on a benefit to breed? Obviously (TM) there is some reason for that? It would be unusual for a widow to fall pregnant whilst on a widows benefit.


  53. Dave Kennedy says:

    “…why do you want to carry on incentivising those on a benefit to breed?”

    Paranormal, I just find your comments ignorant and repulsive and you clearly didn’t read any of my links. I would love you to find any research and evidence that supports the idea that welfare encourages people to have more children.

    I do know of a family of six children that received over $1,000 a week of state support, I’m surprised you hadn’t mentioned them:

    There does seem to be a high level of hypocrisy with this Government.


  54. Name Withheld says:

    I struggle to believe
    Oh dear, oh dear. No sooner returned from celebrating “The Nuptials” and the weight of the world returns to your shoulders.
    Did you miss out on the cake?…
    There’s always cake at weddings.
    Isn’t there?
    Even if it is “sugar-free”.

    Paranormal, I just find your comments ignorant and repulsive I would love you to find any research and evidence that supports the idea that welfare encourages people to have more children.
    Well you certainly won’t find it in the propaganda you supplied from CPAG.
    Well that didn’t take long, I see you have become
    offended. again.


  55. Will says:

    Dave, nobody cares about your links because they are meaningless. Anyone can link to an item that backs up their opinion, it’s more impressive if you can make an argument with logic and reason. You’re a budding politician, so you will have to get the hang of this. Imagine doing an interview, or campaigning in the streets. Links to the Guardian won’t help you.

    “Ignorant and repulsive” and “Will, I thought more of you.” That stuff won’t work either. You need to get your head around the level of contempt the conservative Right has for the Left and their media cohorts. We just don’t care what you think.

    This does not mean we can’t communicate. I would enjoy an open contest of ideas but this ‘shaming’ and argument from ‘authority’ is just a form of bullying. Pretty ineffective too.


  56. Dave Kennedy says:

    Any argument can appear logical if you misrepresent and ignore the facts, Donald Trump and this Government rely on that approach a lot.

    I am not arrogant enough to believe that I am the fount of all knowledge and always look for evidence to support my views and more often my views are shaped by evidence. The refusal to read any of my links speaks volumes as I chose a range of sources, it is clear that ideology rather than reason drives your thinking around housing and child poverty.

    My expressions of horror regarding your attitudes was no attempt to bully but honest exclamations of disbelief that anyone can hold your views when there is so much evidence of suffering. Blaming the poor for being poor may have been understandable when we had very few and support was readily available, but now that the housing crisis and levels of poverty are exploding it is clearly a systems failure.

    This is from the Auckland City Mission:

    In the year to June, 2006, the organisation distributed 4,000 food parcels. Last financial year, the Mission distributed 10,934 – and in the past eight months alone (July, 2015 to February, 2016), 10,627 have been provided, putting the Mission on track to break the previous 2014 high of 11,349.

    The lies being spread here and by the Government are clearly damaging and ignorant according to this recent statement from the Salvation Army:

    In the past few days, the Government and a government agency have made statements saying MSD officials accompanied Salvation Army personnel to visit homeless people living in Bruce Pulman Park in South Auckland.

    These statements are incorrect.

    MSD officials did not accompany Salvation Army social personnel to Bruce Pulman Park, last Monday night, as part of the Army’s regular visits to the site.

    The Salvation Army declined the offer by MSD officials to accompany The Salvation Army as some of these people are very wary of government officials.

    The results of this statement, as well as the recent images of homeless people living in dire material hardship disseminated by the media, have deeply upset these people and have put the relationship between them and Salvation Army personnel in jeopardy, weakening the Army’s ability to assist them.

    The Salvation Army does not knock on people’s car windows. It has a van from which food, water and toiletries are made available and where access to social services and advocacy can be arranged.

    The Salvation Army has spent years developing relationships and building trust with these people living on the outer margins of society – people who often have a deep distrust of officials.


  57. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I’m TA, I’m 11, I’m in year 8. I like school, to play netball, kapa haka & Beyonce. My favorite subjects are maths and languages, I like how they challenge me. I love reading, like Anne of Green Gables & books based on true stories. I don’t hear anyone when I’m reading. Last year my teacher told me to apply for a full scholarship to attend St Cuthberts College. I passed the first & second assessments, but I missed out by 2 points to get entry. My school, my teachers, my family were really proud of me and I felt very proud too. I’m doing good at school, but I’ve slipped because it’s hard, 8 of us living in our van.
    Its annoying, I don’t have much space. Its hard to do my homework with my family around, I don’t really like it, but I’m safe inside. We have lots of blankets to keep warm. We’ve been living in our van for 6 months. We had a house but we had to get out because the landlord made us. Then my dad lost his job. So yeah. Then my mum got a full time job. So yeah. We shower and eat breakfast there. Then we all have jobs, someone has to clear out the van, brush it out, pack all the blankets and kai away, and wipe down the windows. I have to make 6 lunches, its ok but sometimes there’s barely anything. Its really very stressful for my parents. Since we’ve been here, all of us really want a house now. I don’t have to make our lunches, the Aunty’s make them at night. I like sleeping in a bed again (at the Marae), going to school everyday, the Magics netball team & reading. I love reading. My wish is to have a room, to share with my little sister. A library next to my bed & to go to Waikato University and get a degree in Anthropology.”

    True story.

    Good family, parent in full time work, can’t afford a home.

    1 in every 100 New Zealanders are now homeless. We have 45,000 across NZ without a home and there are over 20,000 people homeless in Auckland right now.

    Paula Bennett is giving money to families to leave the city and is buying spaces in motels. The Government was told in 2008 that there was a housing shortage.

    What a mess!


  58. Paranormal says:

    BTW which Gummint in 2008 was warned?

    And who was responsible for creating that mess that the Gummint was warned about? A quick look in the mirror should provide the answer.


  59. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, you are right that it isn’t just National’s fault but if you look at the recent history of our state housing, Labour has attempted to build more and National does the opposite. After 7 years it becomes harder to blame the Government before. National is the Government now and things have never been worse since the depression. This current Government is responsible for turning things around and so far every major initiative has failed. When it is now proposed that motels will be used for emergency housing and people will be paid to leave Auckland (with no guidance about where to go) it all looks pretty desperate. Even the banks are now stepping up to deal with issues that should have been addressed earlier.

    The New Zealand Institute was a right wing think tank and its report card on our country’s performance was based on international comparisons and although the link to the original report no longer works the overview I wrote makes interesting reading. The warnings were there five years ago and we are now worse of.

    And you say i should look in a mirror…good grief!


  60. Gravedodger says:

    When the “P” contamination factor is added to the situation the result is ?
    What is the “P” contamination ratio in
    (a) private homes,
    (b) private sector rentals,
    (c) NGO provided rental homes,
    (d) State owned rentals.

    Is it just possible there are some factors around current dynamics in providing rental accommodation that is much altered in the last decade.
    Changes that have extremely limited association with government policies.
    Changes that are all too inconvenient for a Melon to understand and should they manage a comprehension will choose to ignore as being unfortunately of little assistance in their pursuit of a goal of totalitarian government.

    As with any and all state intervention in any provision of services begun as great initiatives, the Eldorado becomes rapidly tarnished by cynical manipulation. Such damage is overlooked by those running such schemes due entirely to a lack of will to address such deterioration and as the funding is opms why bother.


  61. Paranormal says:

    DK I’m suggesting all of you on the left need to look in the mirror. It is your ideological MUL that is the cause of the problem.


  62. TraceyS says:

    Hi Dave

    I haven’t really been much a part of this discussion due to heavy work, family, and community commitments but I did read your CPAG link. The opening quote is my* story growing up:

    “My littlest one, 4 years old, was playing with her 2 dolls, and she said “no you eat it baby, there isn’t enough food”, it made me cry and I never thought she really noticed that I often don’t have dinner and just eat what my children have left over, if they do have any left overs. It was heartbreaking to know that at her age she knows that. And all of my children will ask at the supermarket for things, but they always say “Mum can we afford …” I am so saddened by the new obligations being put on us solo parents by the government, it is adding so much pressure we just don’t need. The feeling of discrimination for being a solo parent is really taking its toll.”

    My mother frequently ate from a bread and butter plate with a fraction of the food on it compared to the rest of us, but honestly, I did not have enough to make me feel full even on my larger plate. She…must have been starving. As a kid I asked her why and she always said it was because she had “picked” at the food while preparing it. Now I don’t think that was true and didn’t believe it at the time either. It was worse after my parents split up because Dad was a keen hunter, fisher, and gardener (although inconsistent as a provider in every way imaginable). After the divorce he never kept money in the bank as a way of avoiding Social Welfare deducting child support. He though the new step-dad should now provide but that didn’t work.

    Marriage is not a silver bullet; that is true. But all too often children in split-up families become pawns. I guess you have to have been one to understand what it is like. Apologies for that sounding terribly cynical. Please don’t take it as an insult to your intellect.

    But all I personally know, all I can contribute to this discussion, is from my own experience.

    I sought a good provider as a partner and I saw marriage as a way of bonding that. We only got married when we decided to have children. He thought marriage was vital when there are children. By that stage we had been together so long that I saw it as being not strictly necessary but went along anyway because any successful relationship depends upon a certain amount of compromise.

    I worked and studied, he worked, together we built a business – not a big one but a good one – and we delayed having children until the nest was ready. We limited our family size to what we knew we could afford to raise well given all the pressures and challenges, financial and otherwise, that we knew we might face. If you are committed enough to such a plan there are ways to ensure that it happens even if it means applying more than one form of contraception so that if one fails another backs it up. To have had, or even had to consider, an abortion would have wrecked me. I knew that.

    Of the quotes in the CPAG report attributed to the Prime Minister I cannot disagree with any of them. In particular:

    “Usually more money helps a little bit but it is much more deep-set than that. It is really about whether we send them the message that we believe in them and we are going to change their attitudes.”

    If I hadn’t believed in holding and being free to exercise the power to shape my own destiny then I would have not escaped my childhood reality. No chance. This is fundamental. The problem with many “helping” initiatives is that they cause some loss of this sense of power. If you could find ways to help people without this loss then wouldn’t it be wonderful?

    There are ways. But when they come directly from the Government…what perception is there about this help? How does it make the people who receive it feel? It is that the State is very powerful and you are not.

    The other quote which I really agree with is:

    “Paid work is the route to independence and wellbeing for most people and is the best way to reduce child poverty.”

    If there are not enough opportunities then this is a different problem.

    (* not mine specifically but near enough)


  63. TraceyS says:

    Paranormal, we all need to take a look in the mirror. The problem is that a great many people are just never going to see reflected back at them anything that can realistically help anyone whose circumstances differ vastly from their own.


  64. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Paid work is the route to independence and wellbeing for most people and is the best way to reduce child poverty.”

    If only that were still true. We now have a rapidly growing demographic called the working poor who are fully employed but rely on the Working for Families wage subsidy, an accommodation supplement and food parcels to survive. You have no idea how bad things are now Tracey. This is a different era and closer to the great depression than many realise.

    Paranormal it is your blind support for a morally defunct government that is more likely to be the cause.


  65. Dave Kennedy says:

    Gravedodger, the Meth issue is a distraction, there are 70,000 state houses and those effected by ‘P’, while not good, represent less than 1%. One could also suggest that the manufacture of ‘P’ (considering what it does to the health of those producing it) is a sign of the desperation of those involved in the industry.

    It may well be a widespread issue:

    So is your suggestion just to stop supporting those with housing problems because it is too hard?

    What would be your solutions for TA’s family?


  66. Gravedodger says:

    Dont perpetrate your daft analysis.
    Of course as a proportion of the total meth contamination is very small.
    However when seen as a proportion of the “empty” you bang on about it is five hundred out of twelve hundred.
    That is a significant number of the available housing options.


  67. Dave Kennedy says:

    GD, so what do you suggest we do about it? Housing NZ no longer employs people to work along side those living in state houses and most of the contact is through a call centre or letters. If we want to get people living productive lives and not need state support surely we should be doing more than putting them in a cheap house and leaving them to it…


  68. Name Withheld says:

    What a pity victim huggers choose not to look behind the facade of the artificially enhanced story posted above instead of being sucked in by the tear-jerking emotion…
    Oh I know……. they need victims for their cause and this family has it all. Except perhaps homeless puppies or sick kittens.

    moved to Auckland two and a half years ago from the South Island. The father, aged 34, worked for many years in the fishing industry and was often at sea for weeks at a time.

    So a sea-going fishing job which regardless of your skill level pays pretty much above average wages.
    Probably based in Nelson, West Coast or Timaru where rents and opportunities for children are somewhat better than Auckland.

    But they got into debt

    Could that have been consumer debt perhaps, for the big screen or other luxuries? You don’t hear of a lot of people going into debt over food or other essential bills… But who knows? So much is left out, as is usual in these stories.

    Last September their landlord evicted them for rent arrears which the Tenancy Tribunal later determined to be $4983.71.

    That is quite a few weeks to be behind with your rent. Can’t blame the landlord.

    He was working on night shift. He was over-tired. He just lost the plot. He got angry and he and his bosses had a huge argument. He had a suspension with pay, and when he went to a meeting with the boss that’s when he was let go. It was just before Christmas.

    Once again there will be more to the story than just “lost the plot”. Sacking an employee is not easy to do these days, “he was let go” seems an oversimplification. Anyway…. not his fault then?..Really?

    After I calmed down about him not having a job any more, and he calmed down, he had always wanted his own business … so I said to him, ‘Go to study, use this entire year to get your papers’,” the mother said.

    So then….To hell with providing for your family.. go chase your dreams.

    The parents take various children to rugby league, netball, volleyball and hip-hop practices.

    Very laudable, but probably not without cost. But hey….What can be more important than “hip-hop practices.”
    A roof?

    They were offered a state house in Pukekohe but turned it down because it was too far from the children’s schools and activities

    Well the answer to the previous question is obviously(TM), yes, then.

    TA seems a sensible and plucky little girl.
    My advice to her, if I were asked, would be to Run Like Hell


  69. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, perhaps you haven’t noticed but people in all walks of life aren’t perfect. We have white collar and blue collar criminals. There is ample evidence that white collar criminals destroy more people’s lives than shoplifters and ‘P’ manufacturers. We have just as many stories of shockingly cruel employers as hopeless employees, pointing the finger at one group and saying they are to blame is clearly nonsense.

    Those on reasonable incomes have more leeway for financial mishaps and poor judgment than those on low incomes and those who are poor quickly get into major debt from a small crisis.

    You clearly believe that if a family ends up in difficult circumstances then they should live with it and it is probably their fault. People who have compassion are called “victim huggers”. The Te Puea Marae is hugging heaps of victims and many businesses are supporting them with food etc, but we won’t see you there, obviously. You are a believer in tough love and the survival of the fittest. Tough cheese to anyone who suffers from poor mental health, addictions or accidents…

    I believe we can make sure that all families have decent housing, this was Richard Seddon’s view and it still makes sense. Children can’t choose their parents but we can help stop the cycle of poverty by ensuring all kids are properly housed, fed and educated. Being able to intervene if they are abused would also be helpful.

    Let’s make sure the next generation is healthy, well educated and will contribute positively to our society and economy.

    Your advice to TA is nonsense, she probably loves her family despite their failings and where would she go to?

    $20 billion new spending for our military and charging the poor for emergency housing sums up this government to me…no “victim huggers” in National, clearly.


  70. TraceyS says:

    So Dave, the message you are giving young TA is that paid work is not the route to independence and wellbeing for most people and is not the best way to reduce child poverty.

    In your evaluation did you consider how many people are avoiding poverty and achieving independence through paid work? What will you say if TA asks you how many it is working for? I think that’s the sort of question an intelligent girl would ask.

    And so if paid work is no longer the best route….please, Dave, tell us what is?


  71. Dave Kennedy says:

    “the message you are giving young TA is that paid work is not the route to independence and wellbeing”
    Sadly unless she is able to get a well paid job that is partly true, Tracey. Most New Zealanders do try to work (95% who can work do) and yet 45% struggle to live on their income or can’t.

    TA’s family do believe in work and have instilled that in her too. Earlier I questioned your naive belief that work is the pathway to independence, not because I don’t believe people shouldn’t work but because for many families wages are inadequate.

    You obviously haven’t heard of the working poor or the growing numbers of those in slave labour.–peter-mihaere

    Just paid work isn’t enough, we need properly paid work and thank goodness it has been recognised by the Pay Equity Working Group that many women have suffered work discrimination for many years and it continues to appall me that you haven’t recognised that too.


  72. Will says:

    Perhaps some of little TA’s family should try their luck in the soon to be flush military. Might solve a lot of problems.

    Job done, job done.


  73. Dave Kennedy says:

    Or perhaps there should be jobs in the building industry, surely increasing our housing supply makes more sense, Will?

    Rather than trying to point the finger everywhere else but the government and suggesting that people either don’t want or deserve houses, we could just build them. That’s what Savage’s Government did, and it worked.

    This National Government will go down in history as exacerbating a housing crisis, increasing public debt by $50 billion, increasing the prison population and underfunding education and health. This has all created a rapidly growing divide between the rich and poor. We have working families living in cars and garages and the rich living in the most sumptuous homes that have ever existed here. That is some legacy and those commenting here have willingly supported it. Well done 😉


  74. Name Withheld says:

    You clearly believe that if ……
    You are a believer in….

    As others have noticed, when you are bereft of rational argument, you resort to pathetic and childish attempts at “shaming” others by putting words in their mouth. The very reason many here have ceased to engage with you.
    Yet still you wonder why this is.
    Just a slow learner I guess.
    You have no idea what I “believe” and I have no intention of sharing with such a shallow and pathetically spiteful individual such as yourself.

    Or perhaps there should be jobs in the building industry
    ….Or the fishing industry….
    Oh wait……….


  75. TraceyS says:

    “Sadly unless she is able to get a well paid job…”

    I never started with a well paid job. My first several jobs were very poorly paid. Two of my siblings have never held well-paying jobs but one of them has still managed to own her home mortgage free. Remarkable when on just above minimum wage all her career. The only other one who has been well-paid (except for me) is the one who works for my husband and I.

    If the message you choose to send TA is that she must have a well-paying job to escape poverty and that there is a remote possibility of that then she will become demoralised. It is better to promote lower paid jobs as stepping stones into something better. That it takes time and hard work is a more responsible message. There will be setbacks – life is like that.

    What I hear you saying, Dave, is that paid work IS in fact the best route out of poverty but there needs to be better job opportunities and more of them. I totally agree.

    Now I’d just like to make some comment on your style, or rather lack of it, Dave.

    I quote you…

    “You have no idea how bad things are…”

    “Earlier I questioned your naive belief…”

    “You obviously haven’t heard of…”

    “…it continues to appall me that you haven’t recognised…”

    The only response I have to those is that I learned to see through such put-downs a very long time ago.

    Now I suggest you go to your mirror, repeat these comments to yourself (remembering that you said them to a grown up “TA”), and question why you needed to say them; or perhaps more pointedly, even if you felt like saying them, why would you?


  76. TraceyS says:

    Rather than trying to point the finger everywhere else but the government…”

    I want to help you appreciate why many people resist blaming the Government for everything that is wrong, Dave.

    It is because if we blame the Government for everything then our expectations grow that it will also fix everything that is wrong in our lives.

    It is simply not possible for the Government to do that.

    Your attempt to excuse those who operate “P” factories and put that back on the Government is classic.

    One of my cousins made himself notorious in this manner. He was a nice kid and I can’t understand why he went that way. There were hardships but none of his many siblings went down the same path. If you would accept that the other kids did the right thing with their lives then you can’t believe that the alternative path is excusable. It is politics though!

    What guts me about the politics of poverty is that the kids become the pawns just like they often do in marriage break ups.


  77. Dave Kennedy says:

    You are an apologist for slave labour, Tracey. Families are stuck in poverty because we have become a low wage economy. Most have no choice but to work in the jobs available. That is why the Government has to spend $4 billion a year on wage subsidies, there is no way up for most. Now in New Zealand upward mobility doesn’t really exist as it once did. Your mistake is judging the world today on your experience in the past, it is not the same world.

    You continually misrepresent what I say, I do not blame the Government for everything, I blame it for the things it has control over yet refuses to take responsibility for.

    The retiring Children’s Commissioner is someone I have admired during his period in the job. He researched and measured the extent of child poverty when the Government refused to and although he was appointed to provide advice, his advice has been largely ignored. He says in the following interview that investment and training of our frontline social welfare staff and care givers is essential, it has been cut. He wants targets and policy around child poverty and housing like there is for every other area of government, but this has been ignored. He says that child poverty and housing supply fluctuates according to the policies of the Government of the day, this Government clearly does not prioritise the welfare of children or the state of our housing, therefore things are getting worse…it is that simple.

    Just look what is being spent on the SIS and GCSB and defense and compare that to new housing spending. Look at what is being spent on special education and compare that to what was spent on the toilets of MBIE.

    Under National Governments inequality grows, Child poverty doubled in the early 90’s and it has leapt to almost 30% currently. Don’t be an apologist for a Government that is clearly anti children and families. Since at least 2011 our economy (in terms of GDP) has been better than many but the wealth created has not been distributed fairly.


  78. Dave Kennedy says:

    “You have no idea what I “believe” and I have no intention of sharing with such a shallow and pathetically spiteful individual such as yourself.”

    NW, you really don’t have any self-awareness. If you are not prepared to share what you believe but attack my beliefs and views, what does that say about you?

    And you accuse me of being shallow…

    Good grief!


  79. Name Withheld says:

    You are an apologist for slave labour, Tracey.

    And there it is again….The nasty cowardly insult.
    Slow learner?
    Retarded learner more like.
    And you want to be a politician?


  80. TraceyS says:

    “You continually misrepresent what I say, I do not blame the Government for everything…”

    Dave, please quote where I said you did.

    To say I am misrepresenting you, and then call me “an apologist for slave labour”, is ironic at best.

    All I have done is shared my personal story and how it has shaped the way I think. You have used that as the foundation to attack.

    In my view this highlights why you will struggle to make a difference in this issue. You are not prepared to learn from those who have been there and you are clearly unable to accept anyone with a different perspective to your own.


  81. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, if Tracey supports the status quo and promotes working in jobs that are demeaning and under-paid then she is an apologist for slave labour. It is just a fact, not a cowardly insult.

    Cowardice is attacking another’s opinion while hiding behind a nom de plume and refusing to state one’s own.

    You may not agree with me but I publicly stand by my opinions and am prepared to challenge those who I believe support practices and behaviours that cause suffering in others.

    I am also proud to be a “victim hugger” and a “tree hugger”, or what ever other label you want to put on someone who cares for the environment and people who have been treated badly. The opposite of both is the sort of person who puts money and personal wealth before the environment and the welfare of others and that is something I wouldn’t knowingly want do.

    I do go the extent of calling someone an apologist but I wouldn’t stoop as low as referring to someone as a “retarding learner” (as a teacher I find that sort of language abhorrent), I will leave that to those who hide behind false names and throw criticisms but have no answers 😉

    Tracey, if your personal story was not intended as something that supports this discussion, then why share it? If you told a young girl like TA that getting a low paid job is a pathway to future success (like you did) it would be creating false hope. In fact her family have given her the right support, she has a passion for reading, maths and learning in general and although her living conditions stopped her from getting a scholarship, she definitely has aspirations that may lead her to a better life. The judgements made here by others on the type of parents TA has are unnecessary, as TA suggests, walking in her shoes for a bit is what some people need to do.


  82. Will says:

    Dave, slave labour is when you force people to work for you for nothing. Which is sort of what beneficiaries do to us when they vote for socialists like you. You should be ashamed of yourself.


  83. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, I will repeat the link. You should be ashamed at not recognising that slavery does exist here. I regard anyone who works hard and is paid well below the value of that work is a modern slave. Even in Invercargill there are workers who are employed for up to 40 hours but are paid for 20, for half their time they are slaves.

    You are so naive about the country you live in and what is really happening. In your own industry slave labour is common.–peter-mihaere


  84. Name Withheld says:

    referring to someone as a retarding learner

    I rest my case.

    But of course as a “teacher” you would know the difference between an adjective and a present participle.
    Didn’t think so.
    Another of those “typos” that miraculously appear when your comprehension fails again.


  85. Back Paddock says:

    Do Woofers get a “living wage”?
    If so what is the definition of living?


  86. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, you win on this again, I do make numerous errors like that and you are very welcome to pull me up on those. You will be aware that I also often have an ‘oops’ after my comments as I correct myself later. This will always plague me when I press post without checking first.

    I used to tell my classes that you don’t have to be a good speller if you have a spelling conscience and check your work well before publishing, I clearly don’t practice what I preach. Keep up the good work, you are much better at spotting errors like that than engaging in the substantive discussion.

    Back Paddock, a tired argument.


  87. Name Withheld says:

    In fact her family have given her the right support,


    I pity the poor girl if they had given her the Wrong support.
    Would she have to sleep Under the van?


  88. Will says:

    Slaves can’t quit their jobs Dave. Because they are captives. They are owned, they have no choice. Such a thing is not legal in New Zealand. Your opinion does not alter that reality.


  89. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, you really don’t understand what happens when migrant workers or overseas students get trapped by rogue employers.
    I have worked with students in Invercargill who are working 40 hours a week but are paid for twenty and a few years ago I knew of Pacific Islanders who were being brought in to pick fruit and had huge deductions taken of their pay for transport and accommodation etc and ended up with little. Stuff like this happens all over the place. These people are held captive and feel powerless to change their situation.

    You have no idea, legality has nothing to do with it.


  90. Dave Kennedy says:

    We have had 7 years of a National Government and the market isn’t delivering enough houses and over 40,000 people in New Zealand now don’t have one. Either we just accept that in this country having every hundredth person homeless is just how it is, or the state could intervene…


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