Ae Marika – 12 Feb 2013 – MP Hone Harawira

Posted on February 12, 2013 by admin in Ae Marika

Last week I talked about how the ongoing inequality that Maori continue to face today, confirms how far away we are from realising the dream that our tupuna had when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

This week I join with others in congratulating Lance O’Sullivan for his efforts to address that inequality. Lance’s campaign for more funding to fight rheumatic fever, his high-profile exit from Hauora and the launching of his new clinic, his work in schools, his sporting endeavours, and his commitment to being actively engaged in improving the health of his community, were all recognised in his winning the Super Maori Award for 2012!

But I also note the pressure that comes on a family during great change, and I congratulate Lance’s whanau for the way they have handled the past 12 months as well. I know his wife Tracy through her work at the kura and the clinic and the many other things that she is involved in with her kids, and during a pretty hectic and traumatic time she has always been really strong and positive. So a bouquet to you Tracy for being a wonderful partner and a great support, not just for Lance but also for the kids, and to Connor and the other children – I hope you’re proud of your dad. He’s a very special guy, and you are all a very special whanau.

And thank you Lance for always challenging me to take care of my health and to take a break occasionally because there is still much that I have yet to do. Don’t forget to take some of that advice yourself bro’ …

This week also, my “Feed the Kids” Bill was due to come before the house for its first reading. That’s been put back, but its ready to roll. It’s a simple bill based on government providing free meals to kids in decile 1-3 schools around the country. There are more than 270,000 children living below the poverty line in NZ, and while there is a lot of talk about what to do about it, the kids continue to go to school hungry.

One argument that has cropped up from people who don’t support the bill is that “feeding the kids is the parent’s responsibility”.

My response is to say that’s true, but for many reasons that is simply not happening. And while we strive for the day when every child grows up in a two parent family where at least one of them has a full-time job and there is enough money in the house to pay for rent, food, clothing, petrol, electricity, increased prescription charges, school costs and other expenses, the grim reality for many years now is that we live in a low wage world, with an ever-decreasing number of jobs and more and more people being forced to take some form of benefit simply to survive.

Until that day comes, all I ask is that we don’t penalise the children for the economic and social problems created by others. The kids didn’t cause the problems. They shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences.

AE MARIKA is an article written every week by Hone Harawira, leader of the MANA Movement and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau. You are welcome to use any of the comments and to ascribe them to Mr Harawira. The full range of Hone’s articles can be found on the MANA website at