Liz Greive, founder Share My Super – op ed

Salvation Army says 21,000 more kids living in benefit-dependent households; enough is enough.

Everywhere you look, in every headline, and frequently at the top of the hour news, is the story of New Zealand’s increasing gap between the ‘haves’ (read: homeowners) and the ‘have nots’ (those of us destined to rent while saving for a deposit, or whose circumstances make renting the only option). 

Kiwis are well-aware that inflation is rising fast. And while that might be an irritant for some, for others it becomes a choice between heating the house in winter or putting petrol in the car. Between food, or nappies. Whether the teenage daughter finishes Year 12, or leaves school to work because her father lost his job due to a chronic health condition and the family can’t survive without another wage.

Many of us are fortunate because we do not currently have to make these impossible choices. However, the people who face these choices are also the people who quite literally keep society running. Think of our everyday heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The supermarket workers; aged-care home staff; those staffing the COVID-19 testing stations, MIQ workers, the list goes on.

As founder of Share My Super, a non-profit which connects superannuants who want to donate some, or all their superannuation to a recognised, registered charity fighting child poverty, I regularly witness a horrifying segment of New Zealand in the comments on our social media channels.

We frequently hear from people who feel compelled to blame those living on the breadline for occupying this territory. From a position of relative privilege, they blame those who don’t have enough money to make ends meet. Comments that reflect the not so unconscious bias many middle-class New Zealanders seem to hold about people who are poor include: “They shouldn’t have children”, or that “I worked 80 hours a week and that’s why I’m successful” or “They don’t want to work anyway, and that’s why they’re poor.”

These offensive, simplistic thoughts do nothing to solve the problem or to address the rising inequity facing children growing up in poverty. Many of these commentators seem to think anyone could be prosperous, if only they’d work harder. I do at this point wonder how many of the commentators are working full time for minimum wage in a physically and emotionally demanding job (or in many cases, more than one job).

With New Zealand Children’s Day coming up on 6 March, it’s time we as society acknowledge the ones who suffer the most are the children being raised in poverty – with Pasifika and Maori consistently over-indexed in poverty measures.

Nearly one in five Māori children (19.5%) live in material hardship (around 56,000 children), and more than 1 in four Pacific children (26.1% or around 38,000 children) compared to just over 1 in ten children overall (11% or approx. 130,000 children)1.

We’ve heard enough of these sad stories, and the heart-breaking outcomes for children who don’t have enough to eat, to wear, or a warm bed to sleep in. We’d never accept outcomes like this for our children or our grandchildren, yet there are more children living in severe poverty in this country (160,000), than the number of children who live in the city’s fifth largest city (152,000)3.

When I reached retirement age and started receiving NZ Super, I thought how useful it would be if I could share my Super with children and families who needed it more than I did.

I designed Share My Super to take the legwork out of establishing the credibility of charities for potential donors, so donors can be confident that the eleven charities which we partner with  are delivering proven outcomes for little ones who don’t get to choose their circumstances.

Share My Super is now entering its third year, and so far, our super community of close to 1,000 donors has donated close to $700,000 to the charities with the express purpose of lifting children out of poverty and building a brighter future for rangatahi (young adults).

Those who are part of our super community are fortunate, and incredibly generous. Some of our donors are still working, so have a little extra to share, and some do not need their full superannuation to live comfortably, so they use Share My Super to connect them with trusted charities.

Donors have full control over the amount and frequency of donations and can choose which charity (or charities) to support. I have always covered all costs of running our charity to ensure all of your donation goes to the charities of your choice; and our patron Dr Hinemoa Elder and talented board, who are equally passionate about our mahi, generously donate their time and expertise at no cost.

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