Morning Briefing May 14: Lunches rejected as Kiwi kids go without food at home

As hundreds of free school lunches are rejected daily, a new report finds many Kiwi kids don't have enough food at home.


As we learn hundreds of free school lunches are being rejected by students every day, a major new snapshot of child poverty in New Zealand has found thousands of Kiwi kids don’t have enough to eat at home.

Advocacy groups are now calling for bold action on the issue in the upcoming Budget, with the latest Child Poverty Related Indicators finding one in five children are in households where food runs out. Māori and Pasifika children are faring even worse, with only one in three getting enough food.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says improvements have been made, Child Poverty Action Group says this latest report is “grim reading”

"When one out of five children don’t have enough food to eat in Aotearoa New Zealand, that’s a chronic, mass emergency,” spokesperson Innes Asher says.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Government-funded school lunches are being turned away by students in Hamilton, frustrating schools that have missed out on the scheme.

1 NEWS has visited community centres in Hamilton which are each receiving up to 450 uneaten lunches a day from local schools that are part of the Government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says schools are “working very hard” to minimise leftovers and waste.

Further north, the Government-funded lunches have received positive reviews from Auckland schools participating in the programme, with few lunches going to waste.

However, some parents have expressed their reservations over the lunches’ high carb content and the one-size-fits-all approach to the scheme. 

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NZ risks running out of vaccines

As New Zealand edges closer to the Government’s planned ramp up of Covid vaccinations from July, Jacinda Ardern has warned “there is some risk” of temporarily running out of vaccines.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has also spoken of the “volatile” situation internationally, saying “there are still some potential disruptions to supply lines”.

Meanwhile, Ardern also revealed the decision-making factors in how the Government will choose when and which countries New Zealand could potentially open to, and how vaccines impact that.

She says it’s possible people who have been vaccinated in other countries may be able to come to New Zealand before our own vaccine rollout is finished.

Ardern says the Government will be looking at how effective vaccines are in preventing transmission of Covid-19, as well as keeping an eye on any virus variants that may pose a risk to immunity. 

Split families make emotional plea

New Zealand’s immigration system is broken, according to protesters who took their complaints to Parliament yesterday.

Coming face to face with Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, protesters made emotional pleas to reunite families kept apart through the pandemic.

Faafoi won’t budge, however, saying tight controls of the borders “is what’s keeping us all safe”.

But National MP Erica Stanford says there’s currently plenty of MIQ space and that the way split migrant families have been treated “is nothing short of disgusting”.

Yesterday’s protests came as Jacinda Ardern revealed Faafoi will be outlining “the case for change” in New Zealand’s immigration policy on Monday. 

Middle East tensions escalate

Planes are being diverted and flights paused by airlines amid rising hostilities in Israel and Gaza.

Violence in the region shows no sign of slowing with continued rocket fire and air strikes. At least 90 people have now been killed, most of them in Gaza.

Israel is now moving troops towards the border as the country also deals with clashes between Jews and Arabs on their streets.

Probe reveals accommodation woe

A wide-ranging inquiry into student accommodation has found inconsistency across the sector.

The inquiry was prompted by issues raised during lockdown, where several halls of residence continued to charge students for rooms they weren’t able to access.

However, the parliamentary probe found the pandemic merely exacerbated existing problems. 

The report’s recommendations include improving transparency over who runs and owns student accommodation, putting more robust internal dispute resolution processes in place, and improving training and support so staff can better help students through any mental health issues. 

Suburb divided over name change

A campaign to rename a small Tauranga suburb has sparked debate in the region.

Greerton is controversially named after British Colonel Henry Greer, who led a bloody campaign in the region nearly 160 years ago.

Local MP Simon Bridges argues there's no need for the change, however Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi says the whole issue of naming streets and places “after the monsters ... that sponsored the genocide of our people” needs to be discussed.

Other news of note this morning:

- RNZ reports health officials have been asked to approve a repatriation flight for New Zealanders stuck in India, while UK officials are “ruling nothing out” as concerns mount there over the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19.

- Fiji has recorded its fourth death from Covid-19 as the country scrambles to control its growing outbreak.

- St Peter's School in Cambridge is temporarily closed following a bomb threat late last night.

- Criminal charges have been filed by the Serious Fraud Office against six people over a donation made to the Labour Party.

- The Government is moving to clean up the problems with emergency housing in Rotorua, in response to reports of crime and unsafe living conditions.

- Passengers have captured an emergency landing at Brisbane Airport on video, while two pilots in the US are being urged to buy lottery tickets after escaping a mid-air collision without injury. 

- Channelling his own childhood experiences, acclaimed filmmaker Taika Waititi is calling on teachers to help stamp out racial prejudice in schools. 

- Forbes Magazine has released a list of the world’s highest-paid athletes

- And talk about magic mushrooms – glow-in-the-dark native mushrooms have been captured on camera by Kiwi mycologists.

And finally...

Bruno Mars. Source: Getty

Scammers. They’re everywhere. And if they’re not trying to break into your parents’ computer, they’re trying to convince Super Rugby franchises one of the world’s biggest singers wants to perform at their halftime show.

Several teams recently received a call offering the services of one Bruno Mars at their matches, with the Crusaders putting extra security on standby to host him, and the Highlanders also making plans for him to visit. 

Reader, Bruno Mars was not in New Zealand and did not want to perform at a Super Rugby match.

The Crusaders have now laid a formal complaint with police – but say they can also see the funny side of such a scam.