Homelessness – National has failed all of us

Marama Davidson - Green Party MP


A young South Auckland Māori woman recently tried to get hold of me around midnight. I missed her call. The woman wanted me to know the sharp reality facing too many families looking for a stable place to live. Things had arrived at the point where this woman was faced with taking her children into emergency housing. When she arrived at the boarding house, she took one look at the condition of it and then bundled her children straight back into the car because the room was dirty, rough and infested with cockroaches. In that moment, she knew it was better for her and her children’s spirits to sleep in the car than to tolerate even one night in that boarding house.

In the past year, at least nine of my close friends have been without their own home – “homeless”. They happen to all be Māori women with children. They have lived in garages, have been taken in by other families to overcrowd their homes or have endured spirit-breaking emergency accommodation.

They are some of the thousands of families without stable housing in this country. They are not just Māori and they aren’t just in Auckland. This problem is impacting disproportionately on Māori and Pacific families but also on lower income people including those in paid employment, from all backgrounds and across the entire country.

Alongside what my own friends are experiencing, there are too many more living rough on the streets, under city bridges, and pitching tents in urban parks and bushes. In just three years, rough sleeping in Auckland’s CBD has nearly tripled.

The Prime Minister’s solution has been to tell people to get to the Work and Income office.

But what he failed to acknowledge was that many of these people have already tried ALL avenues to seek help and sleeping in cars or squashing in with other families is the last resort. The Prime Minister gave an ignorant and inconsiderate response to a crisis that threatens to derail the stability of our country and needs urgent political leadership.

This mess has not happened overnight; wages and benefits have not kept up with the cost of living and rising rents, there has been an aggressive drive to cut and remove people’s benefits. For eight years the National Government has denied opportunity to those with the most to gain from it, scapegoating society’s problems on the most marginalised in society. I am embarrassed by what New Zealand has become.

Real political leadership would put families first. Real leadership would discourage the buying up of houses as a speculative business; homes are for people to live in, not for profit at the expense of all else. Real leadership would actually invest in building more state homes. Real leadership would be to go and see for yourself what exactly is going on with our families, our children, and our elderly – our New Zealanders.

Real leadership would acknowledge the absolutely vital role of government in implementing a whole of system approach to end homelessness; ensuring that government agencies, local government and the community sector are offering a coordinated response to the complex structural issue that is homelessness.

In failing the most vulnerable, the National Government has failed all of us.

Want to hear more?

Sign up for our email updates and we’ll keep you informed.

11 Comments Posted

  1. A good discussion. No everyone is a sleep at the voting booth.

    Many drowsy Kiwis seem to need a shock before consciousness awakens.
    The Trust john and support fascist banking lullaby from the Hoskins pig pen woos more drooping eyelids.

    The 10% reserve is not observed according to several analysts, but the black hole of Banking information is heavily tiered and structured in such a way that managers within banking cannot probe beyond their station, let along expect any outside public investigation. IRD is similarly hamstrung.

    But if you construct a table of excess dollar numbers gained from implementing a reserve system, against a nominal reserve percentage, then it is plain that to change the 10% to 20% has an extremely significant effect. Move to 50% and the hegemony seems more controllable.
    A 90% reserve in private hands still brings in a very rich ongoing vein of our lifeblood / revenue for producing nothing but debt.
    The salient item is the Govt taking eh bull by the horns and not shrinking from expanding Govt services funded from the controlled issue of money. A Govt bank issuing loans to individuals and legitimate businesses id a powerful tool for stabilising local industry in local hands as well as family welfare.

    But how do we welcome the US flotilla as they enter the heads at Wellington.

    A declaration of independence is urgently needed.

  2. @Johnw

    Google – wrong with fractional reserve New Zealand –

    Currently still number 4 on the list.

  3. The Dominion Post says National has not done enough for us.

    The Dumb Post is wrong.

    National has done more than enough TO us. It is time for them to be sent to their foreign holiday homes and their pastures… and then fence those pastures off from NZ lakes and rivers so that they can never again pollute our nation.

  4. The biggest problem now facing the super rich is that by paying less and making people redundant they have temporarily increased their rentier earnings, but they have also dampened demand for the products and services that further capital growth depends on. The same thing occurred in the 1920s.

    A viable solution involves:

    1) A living minimum wage
    2) Capital gains tax on all but a domestic houses
    3) More tax on the wealthy with no avoidance loopholes
    4) An expansion of social housing provision

    This would reduce the yawning gulf between rich and poor, reduce speculative trading that allows the making of money without adding real value to society, and solve the housing crisis that is now affecting not just the poor but also the young middle class.

  5. I now officially call the national govt ‘The Bandaid Brigade’…….Leadership requires treating the cause not the symptoms. Although this govts way of treating the symptoms is a half arsed effort at best!

  6. I think people are waking up but the way this cancer is set up has much of middle NZ overinvested and spending for luxuries off their mortgages. To deal with we have to ensure the home investor they are guaranteed alright, in any upheavel of price. otherwise they will see business as usual as the safer bet.

    I call it a cancer because it is in the very tissue of society and it is killing the social host it has invaded. The immune system has got to be GREEN.

  7. This is scandalous! How did we get to this state of affairs? New Zealanders being priced out of employment out of housing and children going to school hungry! NZ Has gradually declined into a third world inner state within a coun try where there are weathly people who sit in their “golden palaces” at the expense of working people. National had better have some good hard thinking because once NZ’s catch on they will be out on their ear. Despite Key’s promise of huge tax cuts. Hed better count how many votes he will get out of that!!

  8. John Key speech to North Shore National Party luncheon 28/11/2006

    “There will always be a social welfare system in New Zealand, because you can measure a society by how it looks after its most vulnerable. Once, I was one of them. I will never turn my back on that.”

  9. NZ the land of opportunity – the opportunity for the rich to take away anny opportunity for the less fortunate who faithfully contribute to their wealth with consumer goods purchased and payment of rent when they can scratch together the pennies to do that.

    Tinkering with this situation is all that the last Labour Govt could do. Nothing lasting beyond a few months of NACT fascism. The crisis grows and the scars will remain for a generation and longer.

    We need a radical shift of opportunity focussed on the NZ working class including the poor and dispossessed.

    A turn around of privileged for private banks to issue money, As long as they are allowed to do that we will never see a change of fortune for most , just a worsening shift of wealth to the elite few.

    Will the Greens do this. I would not expect them to announce it in advance or the Bankers will destroy them.

Comments are closed.