More than a 1000 people responded to an invitation from Anglican Bishop Justin Duckworth and Roman Catholic Archbishop John Dew to hear from politicians such as Hon Chris Finlayson, Hon David Cunliffe, Hon Peter Dunne, Hone Harawira, Jan Logie and others speak about addressing New Zealand’s tragic child poverty rates.
The crowd filled St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on a cold Wellington evening to hear about how politicians could urgently address the various drivers of poverty.
Dr Russell Wills, the Children’s Commissioner also addressed the large crowd and strongly urged the politicians to make it a top priority to establish a plan and to measure and monitor progress to reduce New Zealand’s rates of child poverty.
Archbishop Dew also called on politicians to make it their top priority but also said that poverty “is not just for the politicians to ‘fix’, but something we are all called to do something about as a community.”
He continued to speak about the global leadership and example of Pope Francis who challenges us to be a ‘Church for the poor’. “Pope Francis has challenged the world be aware of the poor and vulnerable, the deprived, the lonely and refugees. When he visited the island of Lampedusa where many refugees and migrants were landing, that the plight of such people and all who live in poverty could no longer be ignored by society’s ‘Culture of indifference’. And we cannot be indifferent to the plight of people here in our own country who suffer the burden of poverty.”
“It is clear by the numbers gathered here tonight that this is an important issue to us as a community.” Said Archbishop Dew.
“Tonight I make this prayer from the words of Pope Francis my own, I pray that that our politicians are genuinely disturbed by the state of society and the lives of the poor! It is vital that our elected representatives are working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and health care.” Said Archbishop Dew.
Other politicians that attended were Mataroa Paroro the New Zealand First Candidate for Hutt South and Marama Fox the Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti.