Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Child poverty is a huge issue in New Zealand and yet our government has only recently — since it won the last election and is pretending to be humble, in a “oh shucks, thanks for liking us:” sort of way — acknowledged that there IS a problem. I’m not holding my breath waiting for them to do something about it. Luckily some people in this country are. We have charities that provide school meals, raincoats and shoes for children who need them, we have biker gangs who run school breakfast programmes in their neighbourhood, journalists who crusade on this issue and artists — like Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet — whose art practice works on a monumental scale to make us confront child poverty. Their installation, ‘Feed the Kids‘, earlier this year involved 83,000 plastic spoons stuck in the ground along a busy road. ‘Feed the Kids Too‘ will see Donna and Bernie hanging 6000 lunchboxes in trees and New Zealand’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition — NZ Sculpture OnShore. There is much more to it than that — more than I can write here, but as installation of this project begins tomorrow and I’m lucky enough to be one of the organisers of the event, I’ll have photos and something to hang a proper post on. Meantime, here’s some insight into the lives of nearly 300,000 kiwi kids.

Save Our Schools NZ

I have a 5 year old, and a lucky one at that.  If he’s had a bad night and is tired, I can keep him home from school or collect him early.  Either way, he is warm and well fed.  Some days, even with all that, he’s not on top form.

Still, even with bad days, research shows that children like him stand a good chance of doing well in life.  He has access to a warm, dry home, to medical care, to good and plentiful food, to books and computers, and he has shoes, a coat and a bed.  Not everyone is so fortunate.

Over 285, 000 Kiwi kids live in poverty, with 17% of our tamariki going without the day to day things they need.  Three fifths of those children live like that for years on end.

Many children don’t eat well and don’t have access to proper…

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5 thoughts on “Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

  1. The numbers here in the U.S. are so dismal, and the anti-poor rhetoric coming from the right is so vicious. Food insecurity is frighteningly high for the kids on whom our future rests.


    • It’s the “blame the poor” rhetoric that really terrifies me. We have kids parroting their parents, who are parroting the media, looking down on their classmates because they’re poor. And that’s when the better-off families haven’t fiddled the school zone system to exclude poor people. This is not the fair, compassionate, egalitarian country my parents emigrated to, and it makes me so sad.

      Liked by 1 person

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