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Kiki Van Newtown: What it’s like to grow up poor in New Zealand
“The thing about being poor is that nobody ever intends to end up that way. My family were always working class, but I was about seven when I realised we were actually poor, after my dad’s gambling had drained any financial stability from our family. This was the beginning of my education on class and neoliberal economics. Mum left him and we moved into the cheapest house she could find. Her bedroom there was where I first ever saw her crying about bills.”
“As we know, Metiria Turei lied to Work and Income about her flatmates to prevent her benefit being cut, because, she says, she needed the money to feed her child. Bill English, when he was finance minister, claimed a housing allowance for his Wellington home by pretending that he really lived in Southland. Turei has further admitted enrolling in Mt Albert despite not living there. John Key enrolled to vote in the Helensville electorate although he never lived there. The Herald has helpfully compared the sins of the three. It concludes that English did not break the law and that Key was “close but no cigar”, whatever that means in this context. Turei, on the other hand, has confessed to breaking the law.
The Herald ‘s summary of the facts is invaluable. But what does the comparison really tell us – and not tell us?”
“Anyone who says that the Green party should stick to the environment fundamentally fails to understand what Green politics is by its very nature. The Greens aren’t the ‘environment party’, they’re the Green party. It also fails to understand what humans are. Humans are a part of nature and our social world is part of the environment as much as the native forest is. We’re part of this world, not some separate thing, and the relationships we have between one another and with the rest of life are all part of the same thing. Green politics has never been about preserving the environment, it’s always been about the relationships we have with each other and the rest of life on this planet.”
“It is often assumed by many, most vocally in online comment sections, that growing one’s own fruit and vegetables is a realistic solution to food insecurity. There is a nostalgic appeal to idea, embedded in notions of ‘kiwi-can-do’ and assumptions about previous generations who uncomplainingly grew abundant food. When asking ‘Why don’t people simply grow their own food?’ the underlying judgement is that when people do not grow their own food it is due to laziness and a lack of initiative. There is the assumption that people living with poverty and food insecurity have the time, resources, knowledge, support, space, physical ability and good health to prepare and maintain a garden.”
“We needed to get a super king, my husband declared. Though we wouldn’t co-sleep of course. We would just want to be comfortable in the morning when our baby came into bed with us for cuddles.
I mean, if occasionally they came in for a quick cuddle because they were sick, we would need space too. But you didn’t bring a baby in bed with you. YOU NEVER BRING A BABY IN BED WITH YOU.”
“New Zealand is under a web of inescapable settler anxiety that we refuse to accept, let alone digest. We laud Clark with the Aunty epithet, yearning for her return and bring the panache with which she ruled in domestic politics. We throw unyielding support behind her bid to contest the role of UN Secretary General. We love her accessibility and her down-to-Earth, Kiwi attitude for settling online squabbles and pub disputes. We absolutely refuse to acknowledge her abysmal and strained relationship with Māori, for which she has zero regrets and makes no apology.”
“I am a New Zealander currently living in Berlin, so the policy is especially interesting to me. Berlin is, comparatively speaking, a renter’s paradise. Prices are significantly lower than in similar European cities, and major New Zealand cities (adjusted for cost of living and currency); tenancies are reassuringly secure; and properties are, in general, warmer and more liveable than they are back home. This is thanks to proactive regulation by authorities, which prohibit unfair rent hiking, erratic evictions and even Airbnb’s chokehold on the rental market.
As a result, there is a real sense that a rental property is a tenant’s home, just as TOP wants for New Zealand”
Apparently Jacinda and Metiria weren’t the only ones making political news this week. Simon Wilson has five things to say about some of the transport and housing bullshit that went down this week.
“Just when you thought politics could not get any more exciting, the mayor of Queenstown is about to surprise everyone by solving the housing crisis. And to make things even more interesting he has also cracked public transport and is about to have a go at the cost of living, water quality and shifting the local economy away from tourism. Seriously.
Jim Boult was elected last year on a “can do” ticket. He was voted in on the basis he was going to get stuff done. He’s a very successful businessman and I’m sure I was not the only person in town who wondered if he really was going to make a difference or whether life would just get a little better for the rich and successful people in town.
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But, against the odds, Jim Boult is quietly and methodically not only getting stuff done, but pioneering a new balance of power between central government and the regions.”
“Secrets, sabotage and spying. We’re halfway through season six of The Block NZ, and the knives are well and truly out. Specifically, the dinner knives, because this week we enjoyed/endured the ultimate Block challenge that is Dinner Wars.”
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.