Beneficiaries helping beneficiaries

  • 14/05/2016
(The Hui)
(The Hui)

It's a fact: if you're Maori you're twice as likely to be poor than if you are Pakeha.  

Experts say this is due in no small part to 30 years of welfare reform.

Last month more than 700 people attended Auckland Action Against Poverty’s annual Impact event where the desperately poor are given assistance to navigate their way through the welfare system.

Beneficiary Kath Paraha first attended in 2014 -- now she volunteers as an advocate helping others get the help they're entitled to, but aren't receiving. 

"I don't know how many of them come in here and they're in tears because they think they're going to lose their home or they can't feed their kids so we get together and empty our own cupboards," she says.

Thirteen percent of those who attended Impact received a change to their benefit.

From January to March this year, more than 200,000 people received hardship grants from Work and Income (WINZ).

Academic and author Max Rashbrooke says the plight of the poor is something all New Zealanders should care about.

"It is not a problem of budgeting, it is simply that people don't have enough income.  We've somehow constructed an economy that does deliver most of its rewards to people who are already doing well."

There are fewer than 280,000 people on a main benefit -- the lowest number in eight years.

Experts say a decrease is natural for an economy in recovery after the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis.

But Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley admits WINZ doesn't know if those coming off the benefit are going into full time employment.

For the full story watch TV3’s Maori current affairs programme The Hui, 9:25am Sunday.