We should be ashamed of the NZ our kids have to live in

Young people are entitled to more than an unliveable wage, a damp-ridden rental and beggars on our streets.

Young people are entitled to more than an unliveable wage, a damp-ridden rental and beggars on our streets.

I’m ashamed of my generation.

Day after day I see the people my daughter’s generation calls "old entitled white people" treating young people with disrespect.

Sometimes the shame stems from the way they’ll greet a chirpy barista with their flat-voiced demand, "I’ll have a flat white". No looking at the barista. None of the "pleases" or "thank yous" they reserve for their own generation or those older.

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Other times it’s those creepy men sleazing on clearly uninterested young women trapped behind a cinema counter by the "customer is always right" mode of training.

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Oftentimes it’s the foul-mouthed insults drivers hurl at skateboarders or cyclists zipping around our streets under their own power. The same young people I am most grateful for as I walk to work coughing on the fumes of their abusers.

Yesterday the shame ran especially deep.

A checkout operator was ranted at by a customer because she coughed. "You aren’t allowed to," hissed the woman in the face of the profusely apologising young woman who was frantically rubbing her hands with sanitiser.

It felt even more shameful as we looked away or down into trollies laden with deluxe food items. Shame none of us had the guts to call the woman out and tell her to pull her head in. Shame that this same woman felt entitled to lay a complaint with the store supervisor.

Shame that, in my day, working behind a counter on the weekend meant time and a half and double-time rates, study was free and even a single person over 26 on a low income could get a housing corporation home start loan.

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The shame of "the world is your oyster" and forgetting about the oceans they were growing in.

Today the shame has reached an epic level.

My 20-year-old daughter arrived in tears tonight. One of her high school group had committed suicide. An intelligent, fit and healthy, "funny guy" chose to end his life.

She was upset and angry and she wanted answers.

I didn’t have any.

We, as a country, don’t have any.

We, as a collective, need to ditch the "engaging with" or the "connecting to" and get on with some genuine caring about young people, their health and their issues.

We’ve had our chance at having a good time for a long time, and now it’s time to stop being so bloody single-minded and think about the place we want our children to want to call home.

Surely young people are entitled to more than an unliveable wage, a damp-ridden rental and beggars on our streets asking for their hard-won cash.

Surely they are entitled to ask why our generation squandered its privileges and left them with little to look forward to.

Surely they deserve the freedoms we enjoyed.

Surely they are entitled to some respect.


Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354 

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757 

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666 

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - 0800 9428 787, Open between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy, who are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

For more information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service on 09 623 4812.

 - Stuff Nation


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