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Dr Muriel Newman

Expanding New Zealand’s Dependency Culture

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You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.  You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
– Rev William Boetcker, 1916.

BreakfastChild poverty has become a new frontier for socialist activism. It has been transformed from a social cause into a political agenda. The objective is to discredit the government and undermine parental responsibility in order to introduce more state intervention, higher taxes, and greater levels of income redistribution.

Last year child advocates – including the Children’s Commissioner – became shrill in their claim that 180,000 children lived in such dire poverty that their parents were sending them to school hungry. They pushed for government funded breakfast and lunch programmes to be set up in schools around the country. With schools closed for the summer break and their free food programmes no longer operating one could have expected a plethora of media commentary about hungry children. The lack of such stories confirms what common sense tells us – their assertions are a sham.

Fortunately child starvation in New Zealand is rare and is a symptom of severe family dysfunction and neglect, rather than a lack of money. When it occurs it should not be excused as child poverty and blamed on the government, for when parents fail to accept their full responsibility to feed their children properly, it is child abuse and the authorities should step in – like they did in a 2005 case of a mother who starved her two children aged 2 and 4 to the point where they were forced to eat toothpaste.

When these children were removed from their mother’s care by Child Youth and Family the 2-year-old weighed only 8.8kg, his hair was falling out, his skin was scaly and transparent, and he was unable to smile, walk, or talk. The 4-year old was so hungry she would not only eat toothpaste, but would refuse to leave the table, eating any crumbs of food that were left.

There was a further tragic twist to this case. The mother had a new baby and CYF rejected the application by her children’s foster parents for custody. When the premature baby, which spent the first five weeks in a hospital special care unit, was returned to his mother’s care, within a week he suffered such severe head injuries that he nearly died. While the mother initially denied culpability for facial injuries, a fractured skull, and bleeding of the brain – claiming someone else had caused the injuries – she eventually confessed to the crime. Although the baby survived, he suffered permanent brain damage and was placed in CYF’s care.

There is, of course, hardship in this country – from time to time even the most responsible of parents can fall on hard times and need support. But the activists’ claims that 180,000 children are being starved on a daily basis to the point where the government needs to set up nation-wide school feeding programmes is simply not credible. If they were doing their job, the media would be exposing that fact.  Instead they seem to prefer to parrot the sensational, but false, claims of activists.

The problem is that through their demands for free food in schools, child poverty advocates are expanding New Zealand’s dependency culture to embrace not just those on welfare, but working families as well. By encouraging parents to neglect their duty to provide nourishment for their children, activists are enticing them to rely on state handouts. Instead of empowering vulnerable families to strive to get ahead, they are undermining the cornerstone values of independence and personal responsibility upon which this nation was built.

The abhorrent consequences of dependency – and the victimhood mentality it creates – were aptly described in a newspaper report last month in the Southland Times about how an Invercargill family with six children blamed the Salvation Army for the fact that they were going to be missing out on Christmas.

Their woeful tale began in 2013, when the family had been registered for the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a Family scheme, which saw businesses and individuals sponsor struggling families over Christmas by providing a hamper filled with food and treats. When the family were again referred to the scheme by the Nga Kete Trust in 2014, they thought that their Christmas was again taken care of.

However, the Salvation Army requires families who receive assistance to take steps to help themselves through learning budgeting skills. So when the parents failed to attend their scheduled budgeting meetings, they were notified that they were no longer eligible for the scheme.

The family refused to accept that their predicament was of their own doing, and they blamed the Salvation Army. But if they had not relied on handouts in the first place, they would undoubtedly have made suitable arrangements for Christmas, in the same way that many other struggling families prepare for the big day – squirreling Xmas money away during the year, making or baking gifts… the options for an enjoyable low cost Christmas are endless, but it requires a family to take self responsibility for the situation they are in and to make the best of it with a positive attitude.

To their credit the Salvation Army recognises that dependency is damaging: “If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren’t actually helping them at all in the long run.” Their aim is to get families to the point where they can look after themselves and be self-sufficient. That’s why their major focus is on helping people to help themselves.

The reality is that most of the families whose children participate in the free food in schools programmes are not in dire need – they are simply opportunists taking advantage of the goodwill of others. After all, who wouldn’t take advantage of “free” goods on offer? The problem is that they are being used to progress a deeply political agenda and in the process, they are embracing an implicit message that it is acceptable to pretend you are too poor to provide breakfast for your children. It is a fine line.

Long-suffering taxpayers know that child poverty on a scale touted by the activists is a con. It only costs a few cents a day to give a child a bowl of porridge and some milk for breakfast, and a sandwich and some seasonal fruit for lunch. But tens of thousands of families have been coerced into pleading poverty and fabricating the truth by claiming that they cannot afford to feed their children, when, as the summer holiday is showing, they clearly can.

Fabricating the truth is also a problem in the welfare system. While the overwhelming majority of people receiving benefits do the right thing and follow the rules, there are a minority who regard welfare as an opportunity – putting their own greed first and taking money they are not entitled to.

According to a report by the Associate Minister of Social Development, during the 2013-14 financial year 4,614 investigations for potential benefit fraud were undertaken, 2,270 overpayments were established, and 893 people were prosecuted with a total of $88.4 million of fraud and illegitimate overpayments established.

Enhanced information sharing between Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development is credited as preventing an estimated $44.8 million in illegitimate benefits being given out, resulting in almost 6,900 benefits being cancelled – mostly for former beneficiaries who were working and failed to notify the authorities.

Last year, when the government passed the Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Act, the level of prosecuted fraud (debt owed to the government) stood at over $120 million. With around a third of all welfare fraud prosecutions being for relationship fraud, the law change will allow both clients and their complicit partners to be investigated and prosecuted for benefit fraud – if they are found to be living together while receiving a benefit that is dependent on them being single, such as a sole parent support.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell has been looking into the issue of benefit fraud:

“We all know plenty of people pulling a sole parent benefit have partners. Anecdotal evidence aside, there are two data sources pointing to this.

“One is the Growing up in NZ study. On the face of it, the level of sole parent benefit dependence does not marry up with the number of sole parent households when analysing the data from this longitudinal study following around 7,000 children from Auckland and the Waikato born in 2009/10.

“The second is more straight forward. Simon Chapple and Jonathon Boston reveal it in a passage from Child Poverty in New Zealand:

“Work undertaken at the Department of Labour and based on matching Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) and administrative welfare records indicated, firstly, that in 2011 about 10 per cent of people whose welfare records showed that they were receiving an unemployment benefit reported to the HLFS that they were actually in full-time employment (i.e., working at least thirty hours a week), and hence were ineligible for the benefit; secondly, that more than one-third of people on an unemployment benefit self-reported as not actively seeking work – and one in five expressed no intention to seek work in the coming year; and, thirdly, that about 10 per cent of people whose welfare records showed that they were receiving a DPB reported being partnered or living as married.”

Benefit fraud is rife and the government is right to bring in stronger measures to combat it. But they also need to look at households.

In 2013, the Herald reported, that according to Ministry of Social Development figures, 50 households received more than $100,000 in taxpayer funded benefits. One Housing New Zealand property in Manukau had eight adults and 11 children living in it: “The weekly rent is $87 and collectively the household is getting $2499 in benefits each week, adding up to nearly $130,000 each year.”

Housing New Zealand guidelines state that there is a limit on the number of tenants who can live in a property – no more than two people per bedroom, children of a different gender 10 years and older should not share a bedroom, and household members 18 years and over should have a separate bedroom.

With 19 people living in that one state house, the tenants would have been in breach of their tenancy agreement. And why are they only paying $87 a week in rent?

When a single household receives $130,000 a year in welfare payments, then something must surely be wrong with the system!


Are you in favour of free breakfast in school programmes?

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


If they can’t feed them, they should not breed them. As long as there are hand outs, they will keep on breeding – not for the love of children but for the love of the extra dollars those children will bring in. Delwyn
It is only making them lazy and more dependant. Isabel
It becomes a fraud with people claiming poverty when they actually are supported already. Simn
Bob Kerridge indicates that many of the ‘poverty gappers’ include canines. Does the taxpayer need to provide dog biscuits as well? David
No !! But I am in favour of “training” parents about priorities and responsibilities. Neil
There is no such thing as child poverty it’s totally political. John
Change the word poverty to neglect in 99.9% of cases & we would be closer to the truth. Anne
I’m in favour of parents looking after their children properly. Terry
I don’t believe children in NZ go without food.  I have seen myself the amount of takeaways that parents bring their chidlren into the schools at lunch time. Karol
The state mustn’t be allowed to absolve parents of the responsibility of nurturing their offspring. Dave
No, I am not in favour. I agree it is the parents responsibility, however i do not agree with others comments that parents should be prosecuted. What the hell is that going to solve?! Providing genuinely struggling parents with budgeting advise and encouraging support from the Parents wider family will go further and generate a greater sense of confidence and self respect which goes on to improve other areas of their lives. But, then in saying that, I think genuinely struggling parents would starve themselves before letting their children go hungry. . . . . hmmmm. Anyway, growing good, healthy, happy kids is a parents priviledge and pride and it would be soul destroying to take that responsibility off parents. I seriously believe that every time these lobby groups push for Government intervention, what they are actually doing is encouraging more Government control over our lives. The way I see it, we are gradually being whittled down to pathetic needy drongo’s who cannot think for ourselves to save our own skin . . . . . or feed our own children. Trina
If they can not afford to raise children , why do they have them? Have they not had sex education early enough in school? Jan
This topic has been discussed a few times in the New Zealand Herald and each time I have asked this question, ” If children are not being fed by their parents on school days (so the school should) who is going to feed these same children during the weekends and school holidays?” Unable to get an intelligent response. Draw your own conclusions! Denis
My last 2 years at primary school were 1931-1932, the depth of the depression. I do not remember anyone going to school without breakfast or lunch. Few of the “benefits” that are availablw now were available then and the “bludger mentality” was not so well developed. Ian
There needs to be follow up in homes when children appear to be hungry at school. Jim
No. It just gives these lazy arses and career DPB-ers more money to spend on cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol and gambling. Time to make the parents responsible. As much as I dislike giving credit to Aussies, they got it right when they forced beneficiaries to spend their benefit on food, clothes and utilities. About time for NZ to do the same. Mark
I am a strong advocate of non interference by governmental agencies and would encourage stronger interfaith communities and neighborhoods to look to addressing some of these most dire cases. Raye
As a teacher, I have seen chubby and obese Maori and Polynesian children diving in for the ‘free kai’. They certainly were not starving at home. Some principals run the schemes to enhance their standing in the Education Community. Tony
This programme merely makes it easier for bad parents to further abrogate their responsibility to their children. There is very little genuine poverty in NZ. I am an African by birth. Even in Africa, where there is genuine poverty and starvation, most parents manage to feed their kids reasonably well and do not expect the taxpayer to do so while squandering benefits on other stuff. Geoff
Families must be encouraged to help themselves and not rely on hand outs. Winifred
Parents must learn to take responsibility for their children- if they can’t afford them, don’t have them. Its child abuse to bring a child into this world if you can’t afford to look after them. Kay
It is a ripoff. David
Although I can accept reasons for this as a practical solution to a “problem” – schools have enough to do already – ways must be found to allow caregivers to feed their own dependents. Jack
Could the govt put up budget workshops to help those who need budgeting. I feel with what I read in your article that these families who were asked to come to a budgeting meeting that they are hiding something and do not want to help themselves. June
It is our duty to look after innocent children if the parents neglect them. Theodorus
Parents must be required to take responsibility for the children they have brought into the World. Jim
There are few cases of hardship so severe that breakfast is unaffordable. A good plate of porridge sets everybody up for the day. A loaf of bread at less than $2 can make sandwiches for several days. Cut down on the cigarettes and beer and the problem is solved. Get rid of the cell phone and sky dish and you’re saving good money. Get the priorities right. Chris
It i the parents responsibility to look after & feed their children, ” if you can’t feed them don’t breed them” and expect the community to pick up the pieces while you are out gambling & boozing. Noel
What next? This can only lead to more victim mentality. Michael
No way there is no child poverty in N.Z its child abuse. Peter
It should not and was a white elephant brought about by the Pc to satisfy the element asking for further aid when it was ,in most instances not required. In those cases where there was and is a genuine need then there are many organistaion who would be able to assist without making it carte blanch. Robd
Absolutely not! Where are all the children that died from starvation over the school holidays. I can’t say that I have ever heard of any spike in child deaths during any school holidays. Terry
Parents need educating on the importance of food prior to going to school and the need of budgeting advice also further assistance to find a job if necessary. Maureen
Whilst I would never wish to deprive any child from sustenance, I do not believe that 25% of all NZ children are living in “poverty”. The definition of “poverty” in NZ seems also to be a somewhat loose and woolly one. If you wish to bring children into this world then you must also accept responsibility for their care and welfare – not expect this to be taken on by anyone else, especially the State! Michael
From what I have read there are adequate ways to ensure there is enough support to provide basic food. Perhaps people need to be educated on purchasing and preparing basic food such as porridge instead of expensive fast food and sugar filled drinks. Bryan
I agree that this is clearly a rout! Great expose. Rayward
Parents should have only those children that they can afford; why should the tax-payer and charities be asked to pick up the tab? Peter
this issue belongs to the parents…if you cant afford to feed them , dont have them…contraception is almost free and if used does not cause yet another expense for the tax payer. Roy
Already said. However, the pressing need is to profile your column in the wider media. This is your mission, should you decide to accept it. Colin
I grew up in the late 1940’s and times were hard, we had a good breakfast and my mother always prepared a lunch box to take to school, as a nurse she knew the benefit of a good meals.. Peter
It is being abused by bludgers. How much a week is a packet of wheetbix and a carton of milk. If the parents claim they really cannot afford to feed their children, the children should be placed in care. There is a saying “If you can’t feed ’em .. don’t breed ’em! Kabe
When those under state financial help can afford a tattoo then they can certainly afford to act as a responsible parent and provide nourishment to their children. Charles
In only the most rare of cases is it true that the few cents it costs to provide toast, cereal and milk for childrens’ breakfasts is beyond the ability of parent(s) to provide. Dependency breeds more dependency, indeed inter-generational dependency. John
Not child poverty it is parental neglect. Jim
Dependency is highly infectious. If you provide for one in a very short space of time you have a whole community expecting the same handout. The only way is to remove the cause of dependency, the lack of self responsibility.  Call it tough love. Mervyn
Means taxpayer is potentially paying twice for these children, through social welfare benefits AND supplementing their meals. Need to look into why they need the breakfast and if parents on a benefit, is this being spent wisely. Bronwyn
Parent responsibility. Stuart
The feeding of children is the responsibility of parents – don’t have children you cannot afford to nurture. Norma
There is only poverty of attitude. Marie
Definitley not as per your article. It is the old story of a few bad eggs that wont take responsibility for their own lives, that spoil it for the others that play by the rules. NZ has such a generous welfare system that there should be no need for things like food banks and there is always mongrels out there that re happy to rip off the system and compromise their fellow man by stealing things that they should not be entitled to. Ralph
Laziness and greed on the part of the parents in most cases. Edward
What kind of cell phone do the parents have? George
You do not need to provide expensive cereals. Two thick slices of whole meal bread with jam will keep the wolf from the door.Take alcohol & cigarettes out of the equation & most parents will be able to afford breakfast. Some are too idle to get up to see that their kids are properly fed and ready for school. Desmond
Your comments re there being no complaints over the holidays is very pertinent. Joe
The vast majority of obese parents don’t get another free ride of their responsibility to their children Bob
Most definitely! Ken
This is only teaching children ‘entitlement from the state’, When we should be concentrating on teaching their parents ‘parenting responsibilities’. Bob
No, If a child goes to school without breakfast or lunch the parents should be looked at and sorted out. Athol
As long as it goes to those that NEED it. Howard
I heard a report on the radio recently that the supposedly poor people in NZ are rated amongst the top 20% of wealthiest people on the planet. There is no poverty in NZ when you compare us with the real poor countries, I imagine that a very high percentage of the people in the world would love to have what our so called impoverished have got. Steve
It should never have been started and should be scrapped forthwith! Helen
If people have children , then they should look after them. Murray
This program is just increasing the welfare dependent attitude which is growing every year in this country. The responsibility is on the parents. Kahn
In my days we never had alot of money to buy things. Our mother said pay the bills and then we went to the suppermarket or shop and got what we wanted for food. We never had the sweet things that they get to day. We got what was health for us at the time and a lot of things came from our garden. But today people are to busy working to make money to pay of the house. Some people have been left behind. Robert
Not providing nutrition for your child is a lesser child abuse than leaving your toddler to boil to death in a hot car after you’ve “forgotten” about them. Monica
Parents opting for this should be forced to undergo something like parenting and budgeting programmes. Benefits should be given out largely in the form of vouchers e.g. for food only. Sheila
There is no poverty, other than self inflicted, in NZ so we have absolutely no need for free food. Parents need to take responsibility. Bruce
It’s amazing how many “poor” families can afford cigarettes and Skye TV, but cannot feed and clothe children adequately. Mark
Food vouchers from WINZ would be a better idea, redeemable only for noted healthy food. Clark
No one is that poor in NZ that they can not feed their children! Eric
Free breakfast is never free, except to those on the receiving end. All they achieve is furthering the dependence model. They do NOTHING to get people out of poverty. Besides, if people can’t afford to look after kids properly, they shouldn’t have kids in the first place. Caroline
I believe parents can feed their children with very healthy food in the morning..It does not cost at lot and should be budgeted into the parents spending Free hand outs does not help those to help themselves. Raewyn
No way. The benefit is more than enough to support a family as long as carefully budgeted. This just puts more funds in the hands of those who waste most of their benefit on drugs, cigs and booze. Ronmac
But dont want to see real hardship families going without. Families need an independant vetting service not govn. Anthony
Not in favour of the free shoe and raincoat programs either. Why aren’t iwi looking after their people with all of the settlement money they are receiving? TG
If a child is going to school hungry it is time to make the parents acountable.Maybe somebody needs to come along side these parents and teach them budgeting.There are to many cases where familes are receiving hand outs so there is money to go boozing and gambling.  Hold the parents acountable for the plight of their children. John
All news reporters should be looking all parents & what their income is & to where it is spent, There are many stories about this by very responsible people, but people on the left do not want to know. Tony
The first responsibility is for parents to provide. Weetbix and milk is inexpensive. The left need to get Gareth Morgan onto this one – he has an opinion on all left wing, maori and poverty subjects. Roger
It is parents who should be providing their children with the necessities of life & breakfast is one of them!!!! End of story. Dave
It’s the thin edge of a potentially very large wedge. It’s a sure bet a school lunch will be next. Frank
While we can condemn slack parents we must not allow their children to suffer or become as bad as their parents are. K
Feeding the family should be top priority, ahead of smokes and alcohol. Keith
It is leading the way to a dependant society and parents are not taking thre responsibility for their own family. Judith
I don’t think this is necessary as I dont belive any one in this country is in povety. Just stop spending money on drink, smokes. Richard
It is without question the Parents’ responsibility to GET UP and prepare basic meal….weetbix and milk and sugar, with some kind of fruit, is basic in this country. Porridge for the cold weather, takes only a few moments to make.. I remain unclear as to exactly WHAT is the prime problem here….time, money, ability, caring, sheer weight of numbers, sobriety, drug involvement, there are so very many negative options, but surely not so very many that the entire nation has to have the children fed a basic BREAKFAST? Then what’s the next suggestion/demand.? School lunches? Choice of, and provided by whom? Establishing need and priorities? School teachers now also catering/welfare officers? Then comes dinner, NOW WHAT’S NEXT? I CAN TRULY UNDERSTAND THE NEED IN SOME PARTS OF THE THIRD WORLD. Is New Zealand now the Third World? This is a nation with superb welfare ability, and yet we are still told there is massive need. Budgeting? we all have to budget. Some have more flexibility ‘than others, that’s understood, but there is something fundamentally awry with the “system/s” if we are not adequately feeding our little kids. How much of this really gets back to grog and smokes and the TAB and the cellphones and Sky and ., and, ..and ……. Maggie
Parents who fail to feed their children should shamed and/or prosecuted. Allan
They, the parents of the so called poor, will then expect schools to supply lunch and then maybe dinner after school so that they, the parents don’t have to worry about food at “The House where we Stay “. Mark
How do they feed them in school holidays ??? Lynn
Parental responsibility to feed the children. If you breed them feed them. Jeff
It encourages parents to be more neglectful. Barbara
This whole thing is a total farce. Make people responsible for their kids or do not have them. Simple. Sandra
It is simply a way out for many many families to avoid accepting responsibility – of ANY description, for raising their children; as the eldest of 10 I watched how my parents managed and they were damned good! we have all gone on to achieve at the highest levels and our parents would have been sooo proud of each and every one of us, and the grandchildren too! It was made extremely clear to us all that we ‘did NOT rely on the State’ – we did NOT ‘get a state house’ and we were to get out there and ‘do’ something for others; We all have done just that…… Naine
Parents need to take responsibility. Charles
Parents have to be held responsible for the children they produce. Peter
Only makes the families more dependant. Noela
What do children do for breakfast when schools are closed? Ron
There is a support system in place for those in need, the lifestyle and type of spending should be looked at for those claiming they don’t have enough to feed their children. Carolyn
Why not; it’s not compulsory. Bill
I agree that the problem lies with the media and politics. There should be more focus on helping those families crying poverty to budget for essentials first and luxuries like smokes and booze and cellphone plans second. Alan
These children will only add to the problem of expecting handouts. Why aren’t all their care-givers thoroughly examined to find out where their money goes and why they keep on having children they can’t afford. I still remember how my parents struggled during the 1930s slump and we often had to eat food we didn’t like. – Also No contraceptives then – only self-control. Our parents put us first. Mary
Teachers should be doing their job as teachers not acting a pseudo parents. Will these children starve during the approx 13 weeks of school holidays per year. Time to put the responsibility back where it belongs both legally and morally and that is with the parents or have we absolved them of this most basic responsibility. Gary
This belief, that thousands of children in urban NZ are living in” poverty” is a play on emotional wording. The sooner the powers to be refer to the school term problem as NEGLECT attitudes may change. Social dependency is politically motivated and ensures a large voter pool. Barry
Family caregivers should provide breakfasts, before a child goes to school. Sandra
For many children having no breakfast has become a choice. Our school bkfst club did not attract children who needed breakfast. Breakfast in schools will become another burden on school budgets that are tight as they are. Bridgette
However I qualify “Yes” by stating “Only where it is necessary”. I do not believe free breakfast is necessary in all schools. If it was free in every school those parents who can afford to and do give their children breakfast will stop doing so. Schools or individual pupils must qualify for a free beakfast in some way. Difficult and messy I know. Rog
Nothing is “free” – someone has to pay for this. Perhaps a gold coin “donation” would help. Fiona
Stop using drugs, stop using smokes,stop playing the pokies and the horses,and stop using the db products, then feed your whanau properly. James
Certainly not after reading the article. Barry
One school in a notoriously poor area in South Auckland said no to an offer of free breakfasts a few years ago, and worked with parents to provide breakfasts and lunches, which they now do. If one school can do it, anyone can with the right motivation and help! Ted
Milk for all primary aged school children was a superb idea however. With our production numbers I can’t see how this cannot be reinstated (opinion). Neil
Why should we have to pay to bring up someone elses children. If you cant afford them, don’t have them. Dianne
It’s the parents job to feed the kids, that’s what they’re given money for – whether it’s working for families or the DPB. Chris
Just another free hand out. Richard
What are parents for? But then – through modern genetics – when ‘schools’ give birth to children they would surely provide them with breakfast, morning snacks and lunch.including suitable drinks. Stuart
It is the place of schools to educate not feed the children. Roy
Another political game of pass the ball? Ian
Help those who actively help themselves. Graeme
Have not yet seen any “thin ” kids involved and if they are not being fed at home is fresh air the new discovery as a life saving food that maintains weight? Stuart
I agree with Dr Muriels article in every aspect. Barbara
Feeding children is a ‘parenting’ thing!! What does it cost and how long does it take to put a plate of porridge in front of a child? 20cents and 3 minutes in a microwave ‘MY’ daily breakfast, but then I am 73. Donald
A stupid situation initiated by fools . Malcolm
I know of several close acquaintances that on reaching the age for State Old Age Pension keep on working claiming it is there right as they paid Tax’s I say they are wrong the pension is to give you a living after you stop earning, it is no different to receiving unemployment benefit and still working. John
Schools are for education. Bill
There is NO poverty in this country, it’s only in certain peoples heads. All we’re doing is encouraging certain people to become more and more dependent on those who think that they’re doing the right thing by fostering various schemes. Teach the parents of children what MONEY is and how to use it wisely. Perhaps it’s time to revisit vouchers which can only be used for food and clothing. John
Just another excuse to remove the responsibility from parents. Colin
Unfortunately the cost of doing this is less than the cost of neglected children who are hungry. School lunches should be married to other investigations about family budgeting etc. Jeremy
Binn Inn. 5 kg rolled oats. 5 minutes in front of the stove. Feed a family breakfast for four for a week. Cost, very little. Time, very little. Requires parental effort not more social screaming and ‘throw more money at it”. Gordon
What has happened to pride in providing for your own? It doesn’t cost a fortune to have weetbix for breakfast and a Vegemite sandwich for lunch if times are lean! Walnetta
People unfit to be parents who don’t really care for the the child to start with but see this as their future are the problem. Education particularly about personal responsibility is what is required. Norm
Kids often just sleep later so don’t have time to eat breakfast. Or, they are given money for food for breakfast/lunch but then spend it on sweets and soft drink. If the kids are hungry then the parents should be held accountable. If the parents can’t afford to provide for their kids then they shouldn’t have them in the first place. Having said that, there will always be some kids/parents who need extra support, but they are surely just a small minority. The Salvation Army has the right approach – if people aren’t prepared to make an effort for themselves and their kids, why should anyone else? Gary
This has become an extension of the “Hand out and it shall be given culture” which is rife in today’s culture. While a great number of the parents of these children still drink and smoke. There are case of genuine need and they should not be disadvantaged by denial of a provided breakfast. Surely there is a way of helping those children without all and sundry getting on the Bandwagon Laurel
It is parental responsibility – no one else’s. Allan
Incentivises poor parenting. Mike
Free food in schools is unreasonable and naively altruistic. Our schools are in place to educate our young, to nourish them intellectually not physically! The Ministry of Education is not responsible for picking up the shortcomings of dysfunctional families, or even those with a genuine need; there are other agencies in place to take care of that. Charles
The authorities are extremely naive to not think that NZ is becoming a poor house for easy handouts to those who say they cannot feed their young children. By accepting their credibility as being so broke by making it easy for lazy and irresponsible parents to suck the system is helping no one and making it an easy way to welsh on other fellow citizens? Keep this giving culture to many irresponsible bludgers gives them an easy ride for epeat activities and probably allows moretime on the Pokies or other selfish pursiuts. No one in NZ should not be able to feed their children. Simple as that! Tom
…a good healthy breakfast is ‘cheap and easy…’ Chris
Only on the grounds that the kids shouldn’t have to suffer from their parent’s lack of accountability. Although, in reality, there really ARE very few jobs around, and most of those are extremely poorly remunerated. I also believe that a single household receiving $130K in benefits would be an anomaly – how did HNZ allow this to happen? Didn’t WINZ computer systems wonder at all the people using the same address? So much for data-matching! Yep, benefit fraud exists, in many cases, blatantly. Penalising parents who are already beyond being accountable won’t help their children. Perhaps a different approach is needed? If it means feeding a couple of generations of kids ALL their meals at school, rather than throwing money into the hands of parents who cannot even look after themselves is not the answer. But there are also those out there in DIRE financial straits, and penalising them further is not about to encourage them to get up and go searching for the non-existent jobs… Andy
Until personal responsibility is emphasised in both the education system & society in general, more & more irresponsible people will demand more & more for nothing. The welfare system should have been disbanded in 1948, when the war was over & full employment was in place. Instead, political parties of both persuasions have offered more hand-outs, just to gain power. We now have the situation where LIES win elections.. Allan
Not if they are forcibly funded through taxation. Ray
I have a good friend with a chain of liquor stores, his best customers are beneficiaries, some say they now buy more booze as Richie McCaw now feeds their kids with the breakfasts in schools programme. Carl
Whilst I applaud the people that give money for this cause (no-one wants to kids go hungry) I have often wondered if some of this money would not be better spent teaching people how to budget and to cook, and I would really like to know whether or not some parents are now abdicating the responsibility to feed their children, as well as getting benefits. Beryl
School is not the right place to correct social problems caused by parental ineptitude. Graham
In total 19.8% of the workforce (519,000, up 69,000) New Zealanders were either unemployed or under-employed. The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% is now 2.3% above the 6.2% currently quoted by Statistics New Zealand for the September Quarter Maybe the latest contributor to the newsletter on child poverty can take this into account while the rich get richer frequently from not producing anything. Peter
If women and their partners can’t afford to feed their children the they shouldn’t have them. In this day and age birth control isn’t rocket science! Alan
Poverty should be an absolute not a percentage of something. Heather
For the very reasons expressed so well by Dr. Newman Albie
Because some families are struggling and they are not opportunists. Rhys
Unfortunately there are always some parents who have very little parenting ability with regard to there children’s welfare, or situations where feeding children adequately comes second to the wants of the mother’s temporary partner. Ask the teachers who have children in the classroom unable to concentrate through having not eaten since last evenings meal. Peter
Not needed now and never has been needed in New Zealand. All it does is encourage free loaders. Dave
Let the caregivers give up cigarettes etc Jim
Providing breakfast for children costs very little and is a parental responsibility. By removing this responsibility we reinforce the belief that it is the responsibility of others….so they continue to produce nu,merous children, spend their money irresponsibly and put their hand out.. It also gives children the impression others should and will provide. If you smoke, or drink, or give a tithe to a church, or feed extended family because they have landed on you….you are not poor.Personal responsibility should be the new mantra.Let us get back to expecting parents to have only as many children as they can afford, and that they can and must provide for them. Gail
Make parents learn to budget better. When a family on welfare can get more than many of us get for full time professional occupations there is something clearly wrong with the system. Kerry
I agree totally with the article that the ” child poverty” issue is not a social problem but now being used as a political ploy. Francine
There is no way any child in this country cannot be fed by its family. Directly, or its wider relations! Take responsibility for what you bring into the world people! Hugh
More responsibility at home. Lance
No way – breakfast is the responsibility of parents NOT taxpayers! David
The media is a disgrace for not challenging the outrageous claims of these poverty activists. The government should take no notice of their demands. They are simply playing politics. John
Parents who send their children to school hungry should be prosecuted not bailed out by do-gooders. Brenda
There is no reason for providing food in schools. There is no starvation in New Zealand. Parents who spend money that should be used for food for children on drugs and booze should be held to account. Peter
Breakfast programmes in schools sound compassionate but they are teaching parents not to be responsible for their children. It is wrong. Graeme