Colonisation still impacting on food insecurity

updated By Regan Paranihi

Today is World Food Day and the Auckland City Mission have released their research on food insecurity.

The research showed that Māori and Pasifika women are over-represented when it comes to food support, and found that food insecurity is caused by the lack of income in this country.

It's a crisis that is leaving low-income families with empty stomachs.

Auckland Mission Social Services General Manager, Helen Robinson says, "When people don't have enough money coming in against what needs to go out food becomes what we call the discretionary item."

This is also a problem Helen Robinson says states back to the 19th century.

"It is the impact of colonisation and the impact of racism and that one of those major impacts speaks to the amount of income or how much resource that we have in the sharing so the reality of colonisation today means Māori are food insecure."

She also says that a rise of income for mothers could see a change in the overall statistics with the hope of combating this issue entirely.

"If we could ensure that particularly women raising children and doing that alone have more money coming in we know that would mean they would become more food secure."

More than 650 people were surveyed and the key findings Robinson found were the effects food poverty had on emotional well-being and psychological distress.

"The people who really don't have enough food, of course, it's going to make them unwell, of course, they're are going to feel stressed about it."

Trevor McGlinchey (Ngāi Tahu) from the Kore Hiakai initiative says the Government needs to rethink where their surplus goes too.

"Give the surplus to the poor people here in New Zealand whether they be Māori, Pasifika or Pākehā. It is for the betterment of everyone."

Te Ao reached out to Carmel Sepuloni, the Minister for Social Development, and this is what she had to say;

"This Government is committed to making the welfare system fairer and more accessible for all New Zealanders – getting things right for Māori by providing the right assistance and supporting them to achieve their aspirations is key to the welfare overhaul.

"We are committed to making sure people get the support they need and are entitled to. MSD is making it easier for clients to get help and assistance either in person, online or over the phone - meaning more people in need are getting support they otherwise wouldn’t have. MSD is helping people more quickly, and is able to focus on supporting them to get back on their feet, whether that’s finding a job, managing money, training, or connecting with a community service.  The increase in food grants shows that proactive approach MSD is taking.

'The reality is that a lot of the food insecurity can be put down to the cost of housing. As a Government we have got a plan in place for that and are making sure we have got more social housing. We are on track to build the 6,400 that we have set a target for.

"This Government has already made significant announcements in our work to overhaul the welfare system for sole parents for example – parents will no longer have their benefit reduced under section 192 (formerly 70A) for not naming the other parent of their child. Around 24,000 children will be significantly better off as result, with many sole parents’ incomes increasing by an average of $34 a week.

"{MSD has also launched its Te Ao Māori strategy and action plan – Te Pae Tata. The initial focus of Te Pae Tata is embedding a Māori world view into MSD to help staff think differently about the way they work with Māori."