grid-4by Don Franks

British multinational HSBC Holdings, one of the world’s largest banks, predict New Zealand will be the “rock star” economy of 2014, with growth set to outpace most of its peers.

For 2013, the economy is expected to post growth of 3.0 percent, according to the bank.  And it forecasts the New Zealand economy will grow 3.4 percent in 2014 – the fastest pace since 2007.

HSBC sees the New Zealand housing boom as a key factor supporting faster expansion.

Sales figures from real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson show the average sale price of an Auckland  home was $700,387 last month, up 12.2 per cent from $624,000 in December 2012.

Stick that on the T-shirt!

Only one thing is wrong with our cool, rock star economy.

Some of us will never get a ticket.

As Hawke’s Bay paediatrician Russell Wills complained: “I see these poor preschool children in crowded homes that are cold and damp coming in with skin infections. They are filling our wards.” Dr Wills doubles as NZ’s Children’s Commissioner. Who, because he gives a stuff, commissioned a report called the Child Poverty Monitor, after the Government rejected calls to start a comprehensive measure of child poverty.

The commissioner recruited private funding from Wellington charity J R McKenzie Trust and will now report back every year on the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children. The initial report findings included:

  • About one in six Kiwi children are going without basic necessities. Like not having a bed, delaying a doctor’s visit or missing out on meals.

  • Hospital admissions for children with medical conditions linked to poverty are rising. Tens of thousands of children are admitted every year for respiratory and infectious diseases associated with living in damp, overcrowded homes.

At a glance, the rock star economy is a land where:

  • 265,000 children live in poverty, defined by income.

  • 1 in 3 Maori and Pacific children live in poverty.

  • 1 in 7 European children live in poverty.

  • 1 in 6 have parents wh0 struggle to afford basic necessities such as healthcare and clothing.

  • 1 in 10 suffer from severe poverty, lacking basic necessities and adequate income.

  • 3 out of 5 children currently in poverty will be living in it for much of their childhood.

  • 51 per cent of children in poverty are from sole parent families; 60 per cent are from beneficiary families.

How do the rock star economy’s lead singers cope with this challenging material?

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the ministry was already measuring child poverty, and the commissioner’s report was just “repackaged” government figures.

“We have prioritised children, particularly those most vulnerable, and we’re taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to tackling complex social issues.”


Still, there’s an election coming up this year.

“Paula Bennett’s continued ‘she’ll be right’ response to calls to officially measure child poverty reinforce concerns that National doesn’t see it as a problem or a priority,” Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“If we are to make any real inroads into tackling child poverty then we need to collect the necessary data.

“Our lack of child poverty measures makes us an outlier with other OECD countries, 29 of which specifically define and measure levels of child poverty.

“Labour has committed to introducing similar legislation here and has a Member’s Bill that sets out exactly how we would go about that.”

Double duh.

Labour will get a bigger measuring stick.

And “have a strategy”. One that will not cause million-dollar house owners to lose a wink of sleep.

In the dazzling spectacle of the rock star economy, three plain old things are clear.

One, poverty is not going away anytime soon, because not enough people are moved to destroy it.

Two,  “child poverty” is a euphemism. The commissioner’s report showed that about two out of five impoverished kids live in working families.  Most New Zealand workers don’t get paid enough. The real issue is not child poverty, it’s working class poverty.

Three, if we’re now in the land of the rock star economy, National and Labour are our Lost Prophets.

See also: Can NZ workers really be happy with this crap?

  1. oshay says:

    At the same time economist Nouriel Roubini, known for his warnings of the GFC (so did many Marxist economists, obviously they were mostly ignored) and having the balls to admit Karl Marx was right in an article written in the Wall Street Journal, is now warning that NZ housing bubble along with 17 other countries could lead to another crash. Obviously Key was quick to brush his opinion aside, but what can you expect from a politician whose main support bases is made up of people who think that they are rich due to the inflated ‘value’ of their family home.

  2. PhilF says:


    Parts of capitalist ideology are certainly wondrous things, aren’t they, like a whole new form of mysticism?


    • oshay says:

      It also makes one wonder how many SME’s are leveraging their mortgage to keep their business afloat? Key’s answer to Roubini’s comments were focused around NZ having a supply shortage, while the housing bubbles of other countries occurred during an expansion of supply. But I think that there is a problem with Key’s solution of increasing the supply of land for housing. If it does succeed in cooling the property market, it will lower the equity that home-owners already have and who knows how much our economy is dependent upon the leveraging of home equity? On the other hand, as a result of the housing boom any increase in the supply of land would most likely be meet with a global influx of competing investors and their demand for land would only increase prices even further.