It’s a hefty goal to end poverty in New Zealand over breakfast, but business and community leaders set out to play their part this week.
Journalist Mike McRoberts highlighted the human face of poverty in New Zealand as guest at this year’s Red Shield Appeal Breakfasts, attended by a total of around 340 people in Auckland and Wellington.
Mike was used to scenes of poverty and despair from reporting on war and famine zones around the world and had always felt lucky to come back home. ‘But what we’re seeing in New Zealand is a widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
‘We’re very, very lucky to live in New Zealand—but we need to ensure it’s lucky for everyone. And those who have been struggling to keep their heads above water in the past are now sinking.’ Abject poverty extinguished hope and left people without opportunities, he said.
Mike interviewed Nathan, a 28-year-old former methamphetamine addict who had struggled to get free from drug addiction after serving a prison sentence.
‘I was able to use The Salvation Army as my survival tool, instead of methamphetamine,’ Nathan said.
When Mike noted that a lot of people only sought help when they reached rock bottom, Nathan said his rock bottom had come ‘every second week’, with life becoming ‘an endless pit of despair’.
Nathan’s fears about his and his family’s future motivated him to reach out for help. ‘I realised quick smart I had to make a decision.’ His wife had accessed the Army’s welfare services in the past and she introduced Nathan. This led to recovery from addiction, stable housing and a healthier family life. His children now had respect for him and Nathan had seen positive changes in their lives too.
Mike interviewed Sue Ellis, of The Salvation Army’s Royal Oak Community Ministries in Auckland. She and her husband were instrumental in Nathan’s turnaround.
‘I constantly marvel at the fresh start and the second chance,’ Sue said, describing their work as ‘a small link in a chain of Salvation Army services that give people that step up that is crucial’.
A television commercial created for the 2017 Red Shield Appeal re-enacted the true story of Rata, who struggled to build a life for her children in South Auckland. Sleeping in their car at a local park had seemed like ‘camping’ to the kids for a while, but Rata found a better solution once The Salvation Army became involved. She was helped into a house, provided with food and given support with budgeting and other needs.
Simon Marsh of Media Works, long-time host of the Red Shield Appeal Breakfasts, was at his polite but persuasive best as he asked the business and community leaders to open their hearts and wallets to help The Salvation Army fight poverty. ‘The Sallies are the doers, we’re the facilitators,’ he said.
His words were echoed by Sir Anand Satyanand, Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation and a past Governor-General of New Zealand. ‘The Salvation Army is surely one of those organisations with whom all New Zealanders can be comfortable and proud. Thank you from the community.’
Salvation Army Territorial Commander Commissioner Andy Westrupp thanked business leaders for joining the Army in its work. ‘The Salvation Army is made up of people like Nathan who have had a tough start, but have been able to lift themselves out of a dark place into the light. We could not do this without you!’
The Salvation Army is deeply grateful to the wonderful sponsors who supported this year’s Red Shield Appeal Breakfasts in Auckland (9 May) and Wellington (11 May).
Platinum Sponsor: Fuji Xerox
Gold Sponsor: Toyota Financial Services
Silver Sponsor: JB Were