Real Issues Blog

What makes you poor?

Kieran Madden
31 March 15

Definition-wise, poverty in New Zealand today means more than just not starving. Poverty is about a lack of resources preventing people and families from being able to meet their needs. This standard is relative... As this average reference point changes with new technology for example, so does what it means to be poor and what is needed to participate in society. + more

Food in schools: focus on real outcomes

Kieran Madden
23 March 15

Some Kiwi kids are going to school hungry. Learning is hard when you’re hungry, and getting ahead in life is hard when you’re not learning. This is a serious problem; one that both Metiria Turei’s and David Shearer’s recently defeated bills sought to do something about—above and beyond the Government’s KickStart breakfast programme supported by Fonterra and Sanitarium. + more

Gambling with people's lives

Jane Silloway Smith
17 March 15

Last month, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down that country’s laws against assisted suicide. Because New Zealand’s Bill of Rights is similar to the Canadian Charter of Rights, proponents of assisted suicide here have argued the Canadian ruling should be a model to be followed and replicated.+ more

Tourist drivers: a convenient scapegoat

Jeremy Vargo
10 March 15

The hard facts tell us that over the last ten years, so-called “tourist drivers” were involved in around 6% of all road crashes that resulted in death or injury, and were found at fault about 2% of the time. That means that for every crash where a foreign driver injures or kills a New Zealander, there are two incidents where a New Zealander does the same to a tourist. + more

The aftershocks of King Henry VIII

Alex Penk
06 March 15

In late 2010, after the first shock, our Parliament needed to act fast to help rebuild shattered streets, buildings and communities. It passed the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act, intended to relax some of the usual legal processes that control things like building activities. Unfortunately, the Act used something called a Henry VIII clause ... + more

No man is an island

20 February 15

If you were to look at a CV of my grandma’s life, you probably wouldn’t be over awed. A high school graduate who held down jobs as first a waitress then a nurse’s assistant from her twenties until she suffered a work-related injury at 57, and went onto a disability benefit. Wife of a beer delivery man, mother of three, grandmother of six, and great grandmother of two. + more

On our behalf

Jeremy Vargo
17 February 15

We realise the reality of politics is that a lot of negotiating and decision-making has to occur behind closed doors, so the character of the people we put behind those doors matters. Voters need to be able to trust that whether negotiating with private business for a convention centre, or granting surveillance orders in the name of national security, our leaders will hold their sense of right and wrong, and act well on our behalf. + more

Family at the heart of social policy

Kieran Madden
10 February 15

It takes a family to raise a child. While the short-hand term "child poverty" is much easier to express than "families with insufficient resources to meet the basic needs of their children," it does tend to obscure the obvious fact that kids have parents. Together, they make a family. Together, they suffer the scarring effects of deprivation and missing out on what the rest of society takes for granted. Together, however, they can escape the intergenerational cycles of disadvantage. + more

Back to school

Jane Silloway Smith
02 February 15

Children whose parents are involved in their schooling—whether that be in the form of volunteering in the school, attending sporting events or club activities, or even just asking how the homework’s going in the evening—do better at school than their peers whose parents are not involved. The involvement doesn’t have to consist of hundreds of hours or hundreds of dollars—it just has to be there.+ more

Ever heard of Jackie Robinson?

Alex Penk
08 December 14

In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball since the 1880s. One of the most celebrated men in baseball’s history, his story is told in the movie 42. I watched it on a recent long-haul flight, and the abuse he received and the courage he showed were both pretty remarkable. They also highlighted an important truth: that every human being has incredible dignity. + more

"Talking bollocks" about Band Aid 30

Jane Silloway Smith
01 December 14

Criticisms abound for Band Aid 30’s hit single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The pop artists who took part could have raised more money for the fight against ebola by paying their fair share of taxes. The song’s lyrics are patronising to Africa and its people, portraying a whole continent as a diseased and passive wasteland in dire need of the help of nice white people. As a fundraising effort, Band Aid 30 is selling a simplified message that money cures.+ more

Doing good and making money

Jeremy Vargo
25 November 14

Tattooed across Travis’ shoulder and back are two taniwha, locked in battle. Markers of his heritage, they present a visual challenge: dark and light, good and evil, greed and generosity constantly at war. As today’s business culture grows more and more aware of its impact on the world, some view solely profit-motivated business as “the dark side,” in competition with a society that cares for the needs of its people. + more