New Zealand Telethon & the mass hatred of the underclass

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this topic but my opinions on the matter keep running about in my head and what’s a blog for if not your own personal soapbox right?

Background (for the foreign peeps)

  • This weekend past, New Zealand’s first Telethon in 15 years was broadcast.
  • What the?  Basically, it was a 23hr long televised event to raise money for charity
  • Who benefits?  The charity this year was KidsCan
  • What do they do?  KidsCan helps kids in need by providing basic items (raincoats, shoes, socks, food, toothbrushes).   These items are not distributed at a family level, but rather through schools in low income areas
  • Why is this important?  Kids can’t learn if they are freezing cold, sick or starving.  If kids can’t learn, there is no hope of escaping generational poverty.
  • How much was raised? $1,944,225 NZD

What the haters are saying

  • Why should we support other peoples kids?
  • Why, in a welfare state, are people unable to provide basic necessities for their children?
  • The people that recieve this help are mostly islanders, why can’t they get their shit together?

What I think (this is the important bit of course)

(I get really fired up about topics such as this so the bullet points are helping me stay on track!)

  • New Zealand is not a third world country, there is NO excuse for any of the kids in our country to be going to school hungry or cold.  This goes for EVERY other wealthy nation as well.  If parents are shirking their responsibility to provide or are simply unable to do so, there must be an agency to ensure that these kids are ready to learn with full bellys and shoes on their feet.
  • When we are talking about THIS event and THIS charity, is there even a need to discuss what people are doing with their money, their income or their benefits when the fact of the matter is – THERE ARE CHILDREN WITHOUT SHOES!  If the National Government, specifically Prime Minister John Key, has failed to deliver an oft touted election promise to “challenge the business community to work with us in backing a programme of providing food in low-decile schools for kids in need”, then lets give a rousing cheer of  ‘hell yeah!’ to charitable organisations such as KidsCan for picking up the governments slack.
  • The Big Night In Telethon was not about the merits of low income parents, the ability, inability, willingness or unwillingness to work, their budgeting skills, whether or not they send money home to the islands or the rest of the right-wing population’s argument for why they didn’t donate to KidsCan.  The whole shebang was simply about making sure kiwi kids in low decile schools have basic food and clothing.
  • If the telethon had been raising money for Child Cancer, would there have been such a backlash, and staunch denial of charitable funds?  No.  People in New Zealand believe poverty is a choice – even if you are 6 years old apparently.  Kids are born into poverty, much like those unfortunate souls who are born with debilitating illnesses and neither is a lesser affliction in my opinion.
  • KidsCan provide to children that attend low decile schools, what does this mean?

From The Ministry of Education website, the five factors that make up the decile rating are:

  • Household income – percentage of households with income in the lowest 20% nationally.
  • Occupation – percentage of employed parents in the lowest skilled occupational groups.
  • Household crowding – number of people in the household divided by the number of bedrooms.
  • Educational qualifications – percentage of parents with no tertiary or school qualifications.
  • Income support – percentage of parents who received a benefit in the previous year

If there is a high population of Pacific Island or Maori students at these schools, what difference does it make to your donation dollar?  Are we really just skirting around that nasty word that rhymes with mace-ism?

I don’t know New Zealand, I loved the Telethon but I really thought that 2 million was a pretty weak total, that’s not even .45c per person!  Surely we could have done better than each donating FORTY FIVE CENTS!


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