Leaders from NZ’s major churches are supporting the launch of a new project aimed at reducing the gap between the rich and the poor in this country.
The NZ Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) is launching Closer Together Whakatata Mai as a way to highlight the impact of inequality here.
The NZCCSS President, Ruby Duncan, says 20 years ago New Zealand was one of the most equal countries in the economically developed world.
But that, she says, is no longer the case – and it’s vital to change the mainstream perspective about economic and social disparity.
Ms Duncan suggests our “individualistic” approach to economics and politics will lead us down a “dark alley” with the nation becoming increasingly divided between rich and poor.
Beneath that, she says, “is the reality of misery and despair for those growing up as the have-nots.”
Over the next few months the NZCCSS will be supporting regional networks to organise events and meetings to draw attention to goals of Closer Together Whakatata Mai.
It’s also aiming to collect more than 5,000 signatures, either online or by postcard, from those committed to reducing inequality.
Archbishop David Moxon, the Baptist Union NZ President Rodney McCann, the Wellington Catholic Archbishop John Dew and Salvation Army’s Director of Social Services, Major Campbell Roberts, have already signed up.
Trevor McGlinchey, the NZCCSS Executive officer, says he hopes many, many other New Zealanders will sign up so reducing inequality becomes an election issue.
“We are not seeking,” he says, “to promote one political party over another. But we do want all parties and government agencies to develop or support policies that promote equality or reduce inequality.
“We want to send a strong message to all political candidates that we don’t want a country of haves and have-nots. Rather, we want to live in a society where everyone gets a fair go, and where everyone is seen as a valuable member of our communities.”
The Closer Together Whakatata Mai project was this morning at the Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) HQ in Lukes Lane, central Wellington. Those present also checked out the various services based at DCM, which include a foodbank, benefit advocacy service and a street people project.
For more information about the Closer Together Whakatata Mai campaign, or to show your support by signing up, go to www.closertogether.org.nz.