Low-income communities 'forgotten' - study

A new report has highlighted some of the most pressing social issues in three of New Zealand's lowest income communities, who say they feel "forgotten".  

The report by the Salvation Army, titled "The State of Our Communities",  focuses on Linwood in Christchurch, Porirua in Wellington and Papakura in Auckland and was compiled from 300 face-to-face interviews.  

The report says New Zealand is at an important time in its history, with a new government "full of promises, new ideas and zeal".

"Yet some of the social issues we face in Aotearoa are deeply entrenched, complex and severe," it said.

Among issues of most concern to those interviewed were:

  • more jobs, especially for young people;
  • a stronger local economy and business sector;
  • homelessness, high rents and a lack of decent housing;
  • more activities and greater safety for children;
  • gangs, drugs and begging.

"People held a pride and passion for their community," the report said.

"But they were also realistic and brutally honest about the enormity of the social issues facing their community."

Opportunities for young people were a major concern across all three communities, with one in four people aged between 15 and 24 not in any form of education or training. 

However, they had real hopes, dreams and aspirations.

"They wanted safer communities, and hoped that their youth would be more engaged in positive activities and get jobs," the report said.

"They want the young and old to mix, and all people to have enough and to be free of intimidation, inequality and poverty."

Report author Ronji Tanielu said the voices of those from lower-income communities were often not heard when it came to decision-making, saying they report feeling "forgotten".

He said the report, which will be launched at Parliament on Wednesday morning, aimed to address that.

Mr Tanielu told the AM show on Wednesday: "I think there is hope within the community....they have real aspirations for their young people. But that needs to be paired with systemic help from the government."

Porirua Mayor, Mika Tana, acknowledged there were serious issues facing the city but said the report was only a small "snapshot" of a vibrant community.