83,000 spoons for 83,000 kids

NEIL REID
Last updated 12:32 01/03/2014
Fairfax NZ

83,000 plastic spoons are being transformed into a sculpture to draw attention to the plight of hungry Kiwi kids.

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Thousands of spoons are being transformed into a graphic sculpture in West Auckland in a bid to draw attention to the plight of impoverished Kiwi kids.

Work began on the roadside artwork in the suburb of Te Atatu at 8am today. The project is the brainchild of Auckland artist Donna Turtle Sarten.

By 8.30pm on Sunday, 83,000 white plastic spoons will be inserted along the verge of the seaward side of the road before and after the Gloria Ave roundabout.

Each spoon represents a child in New Zealand that goes to school with no food each day.

''We are installing 83,000 spoons ... that is how many children go to school everyday without lunch,'' Sarten said.

''I believe we need to feed the kids in schools so they have a better chance at learning.''

One hundred and twenty volunteers are involved in the installation of the artwork, each placing about 690 spoons into the turf during their allotted three-hour shifts.

Work is to continue on Sunday between 8am-11am and 5.30pm-8.30pm.

The sculpture is being erected just two days after Labour called on Finance Minister Bill English to apologise for the release of incorrect data on inequality in New Zealand.

On Thursday, Treasury and Statistics New Zealand admitted errors in its calculations of household disposable income, which overestimated incomes among poorer households.

It meant the number of children living in poverty was underestimated by 20,000, while the level of income inequality was also underestimated.

English confirmed he had been told of the mistake in the calculations prior to Christmas.

English has this year relied heavily on reports by the Ministry of Social Development's principal adviser on social sector strategy, Bryan Perry, which in turn relied on the Treasury data, to dismiss claims of growing inequality.

''It's outrageous that he has known since the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] pointed out the error prior to Christmas that the data the Perry report is based on is wrong,'' Labour's finance spokesman David Parker said.

''If he's trying to say that [inequality] figures aren't getting worse when in actual fact there's been a $1.2 billion overestimate of income among low to middle income families, well, that's just misleading.''

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