'We’ve got it wrong' - WINZ apologises to young family with baby for refusing emergency accommodation

Work and Income has fronted up and apologised to a young family with a baby who were denied emergency accommodation despite being homeless.

Social agencies say this is another heartless response from a system that is supposed to help out the most vulnerable.

Nine-month-old Shakana and her teenage parents have just been able to move into a motel unit.

“This is something that we never thought we’d get,” says mum Meinga Tawhai.

“I explained to her if you can’t help me then I’m homeless with my baby, my partner” says dad Te Huru Wiki.

“There was no remorse she didn’t really care.”

Work and Income fronted up to apologised today.

 “We’ve got it wrong,” says regional commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development Mark Goldsmith.

“We should’ve given them emergency housing grant right up front. Unfortunately we didn’t and we’ve apologised for that.”

These actions have been a stark contrast to what was promised by Jacinda Ardern.

“Provide for those who are in need. That is what our social services are there for,” she said in an earlier statement.

“It’s very unfit for a government that talks about compassion and kindness to have their government agencies not help people who are about to be homeless,” says Ricardo Menéndez from group Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP).

The family was initially forced out of a relative’s state house because of overcrowding.

Te Huru Wiki then had his benefit cut for not turning up to a budgeting course.

“I don’t get enough money to travel,” he says.

Despite telling WINZ his circumstances, staff who had discretion refused to help until AAAP stepped in.

“Without the intervention of advocates people like them and many others are constantly being left on the streets without the assistance they require,” says Menéndez.

Work and income are now reviewing what went wrong and what improvements can be made to its systems.

“There’s actually significant work being undertaken right now,” says Goldsmith.

“It’s around asking the right questions and understanding the client a lot better.”

The young parents hope that by speaking out, others will get the help they need.

They are currently aiming to get their lives back on track.

Nine-month-old Shakana and her teen parents were facing living on the streets, until Auckland Action Against Poverty stepped in. Source: 1 NEWS



New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from July 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

"It puts New Zealand much more in line with the humanitarian policies of other developed countries."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said the increase was "about people, not about politics and controversy". 

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years. 

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Background

Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS


Government moves to make pay equity claims easier - 'We must continue to close gap'

The Government want to make it easier for workers to lodge pay equity claims, introducing a proposed law on the 125th anniversary women first got the vote in New Zealand. 

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees Galloway said today he was proud to take "the next step to address historic inequities in pay for women". 

He said The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was intended to make the process of making pay equity claims simplified and more accessible.

Acting Women's Minister Eugenie Sage said the bill was "one piece of the puzzle" in striving to close the gender pay gap. 

"Discrimination has led to lower pay for many female-dominated industries, despite having similar working conditions and skill requirements to comparable male-dominated occupations."

Earlier this year, National MP Denise Lee's Members' Bill on pay equity was voted down.

It intended to "eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex" in employment pay, and to also "promote enduring settlement of claims relating to sex discrimination on pay equity grounds". 

Labour MP Megan Woods saying there were "some very simple mechanistic reasons contained within this legislation why that would not occur", and fellow MP Jan Tinetti saying "this bill does put things backwards for pay equity". Labour, National and NZ First voted against it. 

Shot of New Zealand twenty dollars.
New Zealand $20 notes (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Watch: 'Cantankerous old' rescue dog's escape down Bay of Islands thoroughfare prompts laughter around the world

A rescue dog named Lily from the Bay of Islands has become an overnight internet sensation after her wily escape down Kawakawa’s main street – with a giant flag in tow — put smiles on tens of thousands of Facebook users' faces.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 320,000 times in the first 16 hours since it was posted last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

But the dog wasn't interested in waiting to see what surprise might be in store, instead bolting despite being tied to the large Coca-Cola flag.

"It wasn't until I saw the video that I realised I had charged into oncoming traffic, which is quite alarming, but I just wanted to get hold of her before someone hit her," Ms Green told the New Zealand Herald today, describing the nine-year-old as a "cantankerous old lady".

"After taking her home I realised I still had to return the flag and pay for my sausage," she added. "I couldn't believe it."

Ms Green changed her Facebook profile picture to show Lilly late last night as the video, posted by user James Mcdonald, quickly started to take on a life of its own.

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

"Crack up go doggie," added user Katie Bennett.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald