Mayors rally PM to create social welfare shake-up

Far North District Council mayor John Carter is working together with the mayors of Gisborne and Rotorua on the plan.
SUPPLIED

Far North District Council mayor John Carter is working together with the mayors of Gisborne and Rotorua on the plan.

Three mayors are lobbying the Government to create one of the biggest shake-ups to the social welfare system since the 1930s. 

The mayors from the Far North, Gisborne and Rotorua propose to set up special "demarcation zones" to eradicate intergenerational poverty and social problems.

It is proposed that welfare, health, education, employment and policing would be refocused and be overseen by the local communities to deal with the social problems in the three areas.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said national rules were not working for some communities.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said national rules were not working for some communities.

Far North District Mayor John Carter said despite the efforts of a range of individuals and agencies, sub-cultures of poverty had evolved throughout New Zealand.

READ MORE: John Carter - 'They live from hand to mouth'

"Our failure to deal with entrenched poverty means we are turning our young people into unskilled dependents and, in some cases drug addicts, gang members and criminals," said Carter. 

"I'm especially concerned that our grandparents have shouldered so much responsibility for supporting some of our most difficult individuals and families. But time is running out to find an alternative, because that generation will largely be gone within a decade."

He said that he, Gisborne District Mayor Meng Foon and Rotorua District Mayor Steve Chadwick had been challenged by the Government to come up with alternative solutions to ingrained poverty in their communities.

The idea was the result of the TacklingPovertyNZ​ project - a series of one-day workshops held across the country, initiated by public policy think thank, the McGuinness Institute.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said the proposal was still in its infancy.
GISBORNE HERALD

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said the proposal was still in its infancy.

The paper detailing the demarcation zone proposal was sent to Prime Minister Bill English on December 21, 2016.

Ad Feedback

"We all understand the legal and financial ramifications of a proposal like this, but we also see the cost that intergenerational poverty has. This is everyone's problem and we need to start talking about real solutions," he said. 

Northland MP Winston Peters said he had not been approached by Carter to pledge his support for the plan.

"The Government has not taken this seriously for a long time," he said. 

Peters added that the Government's focus on building up the economy in big cities, like Auckland, over the years had caused the rural economy across the country to be "seriously neglected".

"This is quite a frustration in the provinces that have a very big export wealth, but they're not recognised as such."

But he said the approach taken by the three mayors would not change that. 

"What they're asking for is the ability to organise the welfare system themselves, but if you don't have a top-down economic approach to change the economic settings, nothing this program will do can help in a significant way.

"If you look at what's being called for, why have they avoided the most fundamental thing, the change in economy."

Peters added that the mayors had "written to the wrong man", referring to Prime Minister Bill English, who he said had "done nothing to change" the rural economy in eight years.

WHAT ARE DEMARCATION ZONES?

The zones will "isolate and separate" the areas in the Far North, Gisborne district and Rotorua from central governance.

Although the idea was still in its infancy, the mayors proposed that the zones would be "guided by a channel captain or a group of local champions".

It was proposed that they would request full details of the services government departments supply to each zone, and would re-focus them on plans tailored to individuals and families living there.

According to the plan, the mayors said "mechanisms of both economic and social governance will need to be fully decentralised to ensure the system can be responsive to the needs of the communities. 

"The current system works to maintain the status quo, keeping people in poverty and spreading it like a virus."

NATIONAL TOOLS 'INAPPROPRIATE'

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said local communities "best know what their challenges are and how to tackle them".

"However, a lack of financial and human resources means communities are hamstrung and cannot turn local knowledge into local solutions."

She said there are many good programmes tackling poverty, but these often apply national tools and measures inappropriate for complex local problems.

"The overseas development community accepts that top-down solutions applied by successive governments are significantly less effective in tackling poverty than bottom-up, community-driven approaches.

"Community leadership is needed to make the difference in our communities and we are prepared to give the idea a go if central government partners with us and ensure adequate resourcing to really give the concept legs.

'RADICAL IDEAS'

The mayors have proposed the following ideas for discussion, but said they would need to be explored and evaluated before they are implemented.

* Implement a system to ensure that young people's experience with police is the beginning of a positive lifelong relationship. This would include police, in partnership with experts, teaching courses at schools such as the road code, defensive driving, first aid and basic car mechanics. The idea proposes that these programmes form part of NCEA level 2.

* Enabling young people to be exposed to academic study while remaining in their home towns. This includes basic university courses being taught extra-murally at secondary schools, or through Skype. 

* Remove licences for operating pokies and running bottles stores. This means no new licences would be made available. 

* Removing retailing licences from large retailers to enable small business to flourish.

* People on benefits could support their community by helping or visiting old people's homes, painting public buildings, planting a public vegetable garden, teaching elderly tech skills and provide transport.

* Place free sanitary product dispensers in all schools' female bathrooms, as they are often one of the first products to removed from shopping lists when budgets are tight. 

*Provide a fast-track legal system for seasonal workers and tourists who are required to stay in a town due to relatively minor offences.

* Invite banks to provide people to consolidate debt under one loan so that people are not vulnerable to high interest rates and credit card fees.

* Establish a check list for emergency housing, ensuring these houses are close to schools, of adequate quality and well-resourced for families. The idea is to minimise disruption for children's schooling and social relationships.

* Invite major employers into schools to explain career paths, employer expectations and ideally to set up work experience programmes.

* Have doctors regularly visit all preschools in the area to assess children's health.

* Employ school bus drivers to drive an extra circuit during the day to enable otherwise geographically isolated adults to get into town and back.

* Create a local card that enables free filling of prescriptions from any chemist. There were situations where parents did not fill prescriptions because of the $5.00 fee, or because families moved around a lot and faced obstacles to free access.

* Allow the demarcation zone governance board access to all data for decision making and longitudinal research.

* Allow the board to set local priorities and targets for investment decisions around resource allocation. 

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Death after car, taxi crash

The crash in west Auckland killed one person, and left another critically injured.

One person's dead and another's critical after the early morning Auckland smash.

Truck leaves trail of destruction video

The truck came to a rest inside the store.

Runaway truck crosses four lanes, sends container into cars before crashing through store.

Akl luxury Metro Suites sells for $11m

Auckland's Metro Suites has been sold to Thai-owned hotel branded Avani Hotels and Resorts.

Metro Suites bought by Thai-owned Minor Hotels, as it expands its Avani brand.

Paralysed after farm accident

Kiranjit Singh and wife Beant. Kiranjit was left tetraplegic in a workplace accident after he was struck in the back of ...

Kiranjit Singh was always "hard-working and sporty". Now he's paralysed from the neck down. 

Wellington

Cyclists battling cones in their road

Chairman of Cycle Aware Wellington, Ron Beernink.

Road cones and work signs are appearing in bike lanes, putting cyclists in danger.

Asbestos washing case

Elva Halliday, now 84 and suffering from mesothelioma, is taking building products supplier James Hardie to court for ...

Widow says her cancer comes from washing husband's asbestos-riddled clothes.

New housing set to 'warp' Kapiti

The Ngarara subdivision beside Te Moana Rd, Waikanae Beach. The first stage, comprising 55 homes, could be finished by ...

Massive 850-lot development in Waikanae could be just the start, says mayor.

Measles case in Wellington

The measles virus is highly contagious and easily spread from one person to another through the air via sneezing or coughing.

Health officials say sick person may have spread illness before being diagnosed.

Canterbury

Ute hits van, car, building

A resident said the ute was traveling at speed before it hit a parked van before eventually ending up in the shrubbery.

The driver shunted a parked van into a car before ploughing through bushes and into an office.

Stadium monorail? video

A multi-use arena will include facilities such as exhibition and conference spaces, cafes, bars and a transport hub.

Christchurch has its first glimpse of what its new stadium could look like, complete with a monorail dream.

One dead after car hits house

One person has died after a car hit a house and Christchurch, and another is seriously injured.

A second person has serious injuries after being freed from the wreckage.

Danny's death haunts drink-driver

Danny Mathew Hendriks, 18, of Rakaia, died at the scene after the car hit him in Acton Rd on April 5, 2014.

They didn't know each other, but on a dark country road their fates tragically intersected. 

Waikato

Sevens: field of dreams

Distrust from ratepayers still remains years after V8 supercars financial screw up

City has learned from the mistakes of the past, organiser reassures ratepayers.

Schools' vetting costs

Schools will be forced to sell sausages to raise the average fee of $600 to be paid to police for vetting staff.

Some schools say they're considering selling sausages to raise money to keep their pupils safe from predators.

Hard times after the flood

Ian Eggleton and the glamping site.

A couple's dream job is over in the aftermath of the Coromandel flooding.

Med school progress

Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray said the Waikato med school bid is focused on improving ...

High-level talks continue on Waikato's bold med school bid.

Taranaki

A scene of destruction

26052017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.   Moturoa School has been vandalised, damaging a fence, pool cover, toilet ...

Vandals caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and left a huge swastika in a primary school's playing field.

Easy ride for sheep video

A sheep leaps over the mud after her first ride along a portable sheep conveyor belt at Te Wera on Friday.

A sheep-shape conveyor saves ewe time and stress.

Ready for Wizards

Taranaki Thunder point guard Iritana Hohaia makes a pass.

The Taranaki Thunder are looking forward to a better level of competition this weekend.

The war on myrtle rust

Myrtle rust fungal spores found on plants such as pohutukawa, rata and manuka.

The battle against myrtle rust gets harder every day, but those in the thick of it remain confident of victory.

Manawatu

Pupils dazzle at Stage Challenge

Rangitikei College pupils perform at Stage Challenge in Palmerston North.

Hundreds of young performers dazzled at the Manawatu Stage Challenge.

Calls for change video

Manhar Patel, the owner of Summerhays Corner Superette, wants to see harsher penalties for robbers.

They fear retribution from robbers, but dairy owners say it's important to speak out.

More work in Manawatu Gorge

Higgins contractors work on a fallen section of road at the Manawatu Gorge.

A reopening date is unknown as contractors work hard to clear the road of debris.

Lions negotiate with KiwiRail

Walkers pause for food and drink during the Woodville Lions Manawatu Gorge Track & Tunnel walk.

KiwiRail killed off a popular Lions' fundraiser. But hope remains for a change of heart.

Nelson

What now for long-term resident?

Thomas Lay is being evicted from  Bridge Street Backpackers and is looking for a new place to live.

Thomas Lay is worried. A Nelson backpackers - his home of seven years - has been forced to sell up.

21 under one roof

Vanuatu orchard workers on the RSE scheme share a suburban house in Motueka.

Residents concerned over orchard workers boarding house in quiet Motueka street.

Muscle mum's big win

Hollie Pluck won the Bodybuilding Championships in Christchurch in her category as well as best in show.

Toned, tanned and ripped, one Nelson woman proves the fairer sex can multi-task.

NMIT boss resigns

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology CEO Tony Gray has resigned.

The chief executive of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology is leaving after 11 years in the role.

Marlborough

NZ's oldest Facebooker?

Jean Leslie, 99, uses Facebook to connect with relatives like her granddaughter Melissa Tripe.

Even with just 62 'friends', this 99-year-old still gets fed up with some of the stuff other people 'like'.

The recycle of life

The majority of recycled glass in Marlborough stays in New Zealand.

From kerbside to dockside; the journey of Marlborough's recycling.

Temporary fix reopens bridge

A truck crashed on the Wye River bridge, closing it for almost a week.

Vehicles were forced to drive through the Wye River on the alternate South Island highway after a truck crashed on the bridge.

Whale-watching wonderland

The first humpback whale of the year was spotted in Akaroa Harbour last Monday, on its way up the east coast.

A decade-long survey of whales is finally over, meaning the "closest place they come to shore" is back in business.

South Canterbury

Rural location no barrier video

Kate Ivey juggles her expanding business with caring for her three children and helping run the family farm.

Mother of three says living in the 'middle of nowhere' is no barrier to business success.

Guilty of manslaughter

Timaru Court.

Kooly Managki Te Tomo found guilty of the manslaughter of Arran Gairns.

Accommodation boost

Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced his first Budget on Thursday.

The Government has recognised parts of SC have become more expensive.

Pink promotes positive message

Timaru Christian School pupils dressed in pink to promote the anti-bullying message.

Timaru youths take stand against bullying and don colourful and creative clothing.

Southland

Your chance to cast a vote

Cyclist Eddie Dawkins.

Your chance to have your say for the 2016/2017 Southland Sports Awards.

Busman's holiday gets beached video

Jeff Leeden got his 1964 VAL Bedford bus, Chubby Cheeks, stuck in the sand on Oreti Beach.

Aussies thought they'd take their housebus for a jaunt on the sands. This was nearly its final stop.

Health professionals unhappy

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell.

A medical union has accused the Government of "continued neglect" with its annual health budget announcement on Thursday.

Council's 'Gypsy Day' u-turn

Cows are moved, near Rakaia.

It's deemed too offensive so a new name for sharemilkers moving cows to farms is needed.

Ad Feedback