The second day of the TacklingPovertyNZ workshop was another challenging day that proved extremely rewarding. The day was filled with speakers who provided plenty of inspiration and new ideas for the participants to work with when developing their presentation to Parliament. Learn more about this workshop at the TacklingPovertyNZ website

Session six: Q & A with Professor Tim Jackson, England
Day two began at the McGuinness Institute where Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, joined participants via Skype. The participants had developed six thought-provoking questions for him the night before:

  1. How do you maintain economic growth while staying true to environmental values?
  2. Do environmental issues disproportionately affect the poor, and if yes, how can we balance these?
  3. Given your diverse skillsets – you’ve got a background in playwriting and economics – how do you think we can effectively engage ordinary people to care about and take action on poverty?
  4. How relevant are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to a first-world country?
  5. We would like to know a little bit about your next project and how it could be applicable to New Zealand’s development.
  6. What are your thoughts on what a definition of poverty should look like?

The answers to these six questions are being written up and will be added to the outputs page on the TacklingPovertyNZ website shortly. Professor Jackson kept his audience thoroughly engaged and set the tone for a productive and thought-provoking day.

Session seven: The stress-test panel share their perspectives
After the Q & A session, the participants walked to Treasury to meet the stress-test panel. This panel was made up of six motivating leaders in diverse sectors from around New Zealand. As well as hearing three key ideas from each panellist on how they would tackle poverty, we were privileged to hear some of their personal experiences with poverty.

First to speak was Tania Tapsell. Tania is an elected councillor on the Rotorua District Council and has been involved in many youth development projects at the local and national level. Tania thought that tertiary education and housing could be key areas to address in tackling poverty. She encouraged participants to take a holistic approach when looking for a solution – a big picture vision alongside smaller shorter-term fixes.

The second panellist, Shaun Sutton, co-founder and chief executive of Teach First NZ, provided insight into the role education could play in tackling poverty. Providing multiple pathways to becoming a teacher, developing clearer career programmes within schools to show students that teaching is a good career option, and focusing on leadership within schools would all be powerful ways to address inequities in the education system.

Janell Dymus-Kurei, the third panellist to speak, has worked in various parts of the health sector including youth development, youth engagement, health promotion and health policy. She has a strong interest in Māori health and in reducing disparities in health outcomes for Māori. Janell spoke about recognising the power of connection, being able to rely on the land, and the need to change our paradigms and perspectives to tackle poverty.

Sachiko Shimamoto is a health promoter at He Waka Tapu, where she works with Māori whanau to encourage them to lead healthier lifestyles. Sachiko brought to the room an insightful perspective on poverty in Christchurch. She shared her experiences of promoting nutrition and health to whanau who have very little income. Her three ideas to tackle poverty were to put funding in the hands of those who need it, to strengthen communities and institutions already in place, and to make healthy and affordable food available.

The next panellist to speak was Shay Wright, the founding head of Maori Development at The Icehouse. Shay has worked with Māori leaders throughout New Zealand to help them improve the well-being of their societies. Shay suggested increasing household incomes, reducing the regressive tax system, and reversing the new world order.

Emma Thompson, the Practice Development Leader for Te Roopu Āramuka Whāroaroa (a case co-ordination service operating in the mental health directorate at Capital and Coast District Health Board), was the final speaker from the panel. She considered that home health (for example WOFs for housing), mental health and cultural literacy were central to tackling poverty. After listening to the panel as a plenary, the participants then had an opportunity to ask them further questions in smaller groups.

Session ten: Q & A session with Hon. Bill English
After lunch, the group had a productive discussion around some hard questions with Hon. Bill English. This discussion gave the group an insight into the challenges of tackling poverty from a government perspective. The Deputy Prime Minister challenged us to think about the issue from a new angle, asking participants to think about who would pay for their proposed additional services.

The group has an engaging discussion with Hon. Bill English

The group has an engaging discussion with Hon. Bill English

Mitchell Denham and Tiria Pehi present Hon. Bill English with a glass house, a gift from the participants

Mitchell Denham and Tiria Pehi present Hon. Bill English with a glass house, a gift from the participants

Session twelve: Presentation Preparation to the stress-test panel
Following the discussion with Hon. Bill English, the group began brainstorming a possible definition of poverty as well as their overarching vision for New Zealand. The ideas were robustly stress-tested by the panellists who had spoken earlier in the morning. This process provided constructive feedback which helped to further develop and refine the participants’ ideas. The panellists left us feeling motivated to choose the best paths up the mountain of tackling poverty, and reminded us that making a difference requires a combination of thinkers, doers and heart.

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Four of the stress-test panellists. From left, Shay Wright, Sachiko Shimamoto, Emma Thompson and Janell Dymus-Kurei.

Session thirteen: Conversations
The final speaker of the day provided an insight into poverty for Pacifika in New Zealand. Su’a Thomsen from Treasury talked about the importance of data being the ‘lifeblood’ for policy. He also highlighted how everyone looks at things through their own default lens, especially when faced with uncertainty. He suggested that when considering how to effectively tackle poverty, the participants should look at the options through lenses other than their own. He reminded the group to focus on equity in tackling poverty.

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Su’a Thomsen and the participants.

The day finished back at the McGuinness Institute offices. It is the moment when participants move from group work to plenary. It is the night the magic happens. On their own they synthesise their ideas, develop their thinking, prioritise their recommendations and prepare the framework for their presentation. It is where they develop ‘their voice’.

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Participants late on Tuesday night