A dose of hope for March
Everywhere I look, I see people coming together to make the world a better place.
This is not always easy. I often witness people’s pain, rage, grief and heartache as they face the sharp edges of inequality and injustice. This usually comes from the desire to simply be treated with dignity and respect. And from wanting everyone to have the opportunity and ability to provide for their families and whenua (land) so whakapapa (family lines) can flourish.
The Monthly Dose of Hope is exactly what it says it is. We want you to know the stories of hope and success we see from people gathering together to make change. Many of the stories here are connected to our petition platform — but our website is only a tool. It’s the people behind the petition who raise the issues, do the work and run the campaigns who push these successes forward.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg — or the crest of the wave! Behind each victory are many others who will not be featured here, but who are vital to social change. Family members cooking the kai (food) and keeping the home fires burning. The children bringing joy and creativity to making change. The people who give their money or time to causes they believe in. The printers, the placard painters, the receptionists, the cleaners, the babies and the grandparents!
Each of us has a role to play in creating a better world. And we can only do it together.
So please, take this moment to see what people in our country care about. If you are experiencing your own pain, rage, grief or heartache — be reminded that you’re not alone. And that somewhere out there, around the motu (islands) or even over your neighbour’s fence, there is always someone making a difference. And that includes you too. Soak in the hope, and see you soon!
Kassie, for the ActionStation team
Victory for Māori representation
The ActionStation community values fairness and inclusion. We all want our cities and towns to be vibrant and flourishing democracies where everybody participates, and our children and grandchildren can see themselves reflected in the leaders we elect. Last month we saw a huge step toward that vision.
After years of people-powered campaigning, the government passed a new law that strengthens Māori representation on local councils by upholding the establishment of Māori Wards, and removing the unfair ability to force petitions that block them.
This is fantastic news! More than 11,000 ActionStation members signed a petition in support of Māori wards that we delivered alongside Te Rōpū Tautoko Māori to Labour MP Tāmati Coffey late last year. In 2018 our community supported local grassroots campaigners and councillors to fight five referenda aiming to block Māori wards in their areas. Our people-powered report ‘How we can enhance local democracy in Aotearoa’ recommended the Government support councils to establish Māori Wards.
The legislation is retrospective, allowing councils who already voted for a Māori ward in the last few months to go forward without referenda. Other councils around Aotearoa have until May to introduce a Māori ward in time for the council elections in 2022. Nine councils will introduce them next year.
Our councils will have better Māori representation, make better decisions with better outcomes, and have stronger connections to local hapū. This is the result of years of advocacy work and campaigning from so many. It’s a huge win for diversity around the council table. Our thanks are with every person who contributed to this win, and with Minister Mahuta, for making it happen.
- Listen: Toni Boynton from Te Rōpū Tautoko Māori talks about the campaign
- Read: The truth about Māori Wards by Florence Dean and Andrew Geddis
⚖️ Economic Fairness ⚖️
Whether we’re working, caring, learning, or growing — all of us should be able to access a decent income and somewhere to call home. Across Aotearoa there is a growing consensus; people from all walks of life want to see the Government take action to make that happen.
We recently commissioned a UMR poll that showed 7 out of 10 people across New Zealand (69%) agree that “the Government should increase income support for those on low incomes and not in paid work.”
Despite our differences, the majority of people from various backgrounds, political leanings, and lifestyles agreed: income support needs to be raised. There was majority support from people who live in the country, people who live in the city, and people who vote Green, Labour, National and Act.
We’ve been to Parliament twice over the last month. First, we joined up with a powerful delegation of people with lived experience of the welfare system and people from the organisations who signed our open letter. Together, we briefed policy advisors to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni on what life is really like for people who need income support to make ends meet.
The second time, we spoke to the Social Services Select Committee about our petition calling for children and whānau wellbeing to be put at the heart of the welfare system. This group of politicians from different parties will report back to every MP on what they heard when considering our petition.
We’ll keep the pressure up until all families in Aotearoa have enough to live well. We’re in a huge moment for our movement to end poverty in Aotearoa. Along with our allies across the country, ActionStation members are at the heart of it.
Mark your calendar now — the date for the first Matariki public holiday has been announced! On 24 June 2022 tangata whenua (people of the land) and tangata tiriti (people here by virtue of te Tiriti) will enjoy community events and festivities, and the chance to learn more about Matariki.
Last year 35,000 of us signed a petition started by previous ActionStation Director Laura O’Connell Rapira, calling for Matariki to be made a public holiday. We hosted a free, informative kōrero on Matariki and what a holiday could look like, that was viewed more than 10,000 times. We commissioned and published crowd-funded independent polling showing that the majority of New Zealanders agree that Matariki should be a public holiday.
We have many hopes and dreams for what this holiday will make possible. In Laura’s words:
“I think even just to be having a public holiday that is about the stars and that encourages us to look up, we will in turn have the knock-on effect of being more connected to both our environment but also to each other and to the whānau who have passed.”
Māori astronomers will use the stars and moon phases to determine the date for Matariki each year, drawing on celestial knowledge from many iwi. The date will be different each year, but always in June or July.
If you’re keen to know more about Matariki in preparation for 2022, check out:
- Our webinar on what a Matariki public holiday could look like
- Laura’s reflections on her experience facilitating her whānau through their first Matariki celebration last year
- This RNZ piece which talks about how the date will be determined: Matariki holiday will ‘better connect us with the natural world’
Māori decision-making for Māori health
A healthy society means everyone gets timely, thorough and effective healthcare so we have the energy and wellbeing to be our best as friends, family members, workers, learners, and carers. But right now the health system doesn’t work the same for everyone.
Emily and Annameke are health professionals in the Bay of Plenty. In their work, they see how Māori whānau and communities are treated unfairly everyday. Unequal health services mean Māori women are dying at twice the rate as non-Māori from breast cancer, four times the rate from cervical cancer, and five times more from lung cancer.
Emily and Annameke are working together to change this urgently. They are calling on the Government to ensure a new Māori Health Authority is afforded the power to commission its own services and given control over its budget. These powers would mean the authority can make decisions about how best to spend health dollars to make a difference for whānau Māori.
Last month Emily and Annameke delivered their petition to parliament on behalf of over 2,000 people calling for Māori self-determination in Māori health. MP for Te Pāti Māori Rawiri Waititi accepted their petition, and they were met on the steps of Parliament by Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare. Their call is gaining momentum fast with both the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and the New Zealand Medical Association adding their support this month.
Check out this video coverage of their petition delivery from Te Karere, and add your name here to stay in touch with their campaign.
Helping get the best for parents & bubs
“There’s no doubt that whānau forms the foundation of our society. If we treat all families well and support them to thrive from the get go, our communities will flourish. So many of our social issues would be solved if our government chose to invest real money and resources into whānau wellbeing, starting with maternity care.”
Kirsten Van Newton wrote these words in hospital and days away from giving birth to her second child following a high-risk pregnancy. She started a campaign to support maternity services from her hospital bed because every baby and every pregnant person in Aotearoa deserves the very best care we can provide as a society.
Kirsten was experiencing the crisis state of our maternal health services first-hand. She read report after report describing the dire state of our maternity sector. Serious staff shortages for essential roles like midwives have put maternity services at capacity — meaning they reach a point where they cannot look after any more pregnant people. Overwork, unpredictable conditions, poor remuneration, and lack of specialist supervision have led midwives to burnout. In Kirsten’s words:
“We truly have some of the most skilled and compassionate people providing maternity care in Aotearoa, but our government is taking them for granted by forcing them to work in situations that compromise everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”
That’s why she is calling on the government to urgently address the maternity crisis by increasing funding to maternity services, removing barriers to care for pregnant people, and supporting the midwives, doctors, nurses, and other workers who deliver these services. Over 3,500 people have already signed asking for the government to launch a full rebirth of our maternity sector. Join them and sign the petition here.
Our love, congratulations, and excitement go out to Kirsten, her pēpi, and her whānau following the birth of her second child last month.
Hīkoi of hope for the rights of disabled whānau
At the end of the day, most of us want pretty similar things. A place to call home that suits our needs, quality time with the ones we love, and to go about our day without unnecessary blocks and barriers.
But right now decisions are being made across government without disabled people at the table. Without this expertise, policies, laws and resourcing decisions can put up more barriers to people living their lives with dignity and respect.
On Tuesday hundreds of people rallied at parliament for Te Hikoi o Te tumanako mō o whānau hauaa: The March of Hope for Disabled Kiwis.
Dr. Huhana Hickey is part of a collective of disabled people, allies, whānau, family and friends who led the hīkoi. Huhana started a petition calling for the government to create an independent regulatory body that is led and run by disabled people.
Right now we have a chance to call for an ambitious climate response that builds a just, equitable and accessible future for all. The Climate Change Commission has released its draft advice to the government on what Aotearoa should do to reduce emissions. For the next two days (until midnight on Sunday March 28) they’re asking for feedback on that advice.
An awesome group of allies and friends in the movement for a flourishing planet have made a handy guide to making a submission. This group includes folk from the Pacific Climate Warriors, School Strike 4 Climate, Sustained Ability, and 350 Aotearoa. Check out their submissions template here to get you started.
The ActionStation community has taken action for climate justice before. The more of us who make submissions shows the Commission there is strong support from communities across Aotearoa for decisive climate action that sets us on course for a more resilient, accessible and sustainable future.
That’s all for this month, see you again soon!