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Here's what poverty looks like to us

Poverty. It's a word we often see in government announcements and the media to define the way of living faced by too many New Zealanders. Within a sentence the word barely reflects the challenging reality faced by those living it yet we see it every day, not as a word, but in the action of every person who reaches out to us.

What does poverty look like to us in Taitokerau? In February alone, it was in responding to more than 300 engagements from whānau who came to us looking for support to meet their basic needs. It was in providing basic facilities at our 155 Open Arms day centre to accommodate 170 hot showers, 149 loads of washing, and prepare 1,774 hot meals. Down the road at our 155 Whare Kai social supermarket, it was in accommodating 235 shops.

As an organisation that sees poverty in action every day we are deeply concerned by the government’s plans to 
index benefits to inflation rather than wage growth from 1 April. We share the sentiment of Auckland City Mission and Child Poverty Action Group who believe the change will further push people into poverty, with those already struggling being less able to afford basic human rights; food, housing and healthcare and could push an extra 13,000 tamariki into poverty.

The Salvation Army’s 
2024 State of the Nation report, Ngā Tukunga Iho – The Things We Inherit, also confirms what we already know; we’re facing a deepening cost-of-living crisis where increasing rental costs, lack of affordable housing and wage inequality for women, Māori and Pasifika people are among the many challenges facing people across Aotearoa and, of course, in our region.

What are we doing about it? We’ll continue to listen to the hopes and needs of those in our communities, and use their lived experiences to advocate for change.

We depend greatly on our community of supporters. The government does not fund our 
155 Open Arms or 155 Whare Kai services so donations make a huge difference and allow us to directly assist whānau with their immediate needs.

This year we hope to reach and connect with more whānau across Taitokerau in our justice van, which we will tell you more about soon. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. My success is not mine alone, but it is the strength of many. 


155 Whare Āwhina CEO Liz Cassidy-Nelson
155 Whare Āwhina CEO Liz Cassidy-Nelson