Two years of campaigning paid off today when Foreign Minister Winston Peters accepted a representative petition from members of the Make Poverty History (MPH) coalition.
Representatives of the campaign, part of the largest global movement against poverty the world has ever seen, were on hand on the steps of parliament as Peters received a placard detailing the support of thousands of New Zealanders.
“New Zealanders are famous for our can-do attitude in the face of overwhelming odds. Wiping out poverty may seem an impossible dream, but so was climbing Everest once. We implore our government to have the courage and commitment to face the challenge of making poverty history,” says Paul Brown, National Director of ChildFund New Zealand.
More than 120,000 actions have been taken by kiwis calling on the Government to do its part to help make poverty history.
“It’s an example of the extent to which Kiwis care about those in need. They are fantastic global citizens and they want to make a difference,” says MPH member Lisa Cescon, World Vision New Zealand Chief Executive Officer.
“Make Poverty History has struck a chord with people the world over – we’ve seen millions of people a speaking out against poverty. Governments need to listen,” says MPH member Tim O’Donovan, Development Resource Centre Director.
The official Make Poverty History handover comes the day after Peters announced a commitment to increase the Government’s foreign aid spending to 0.35 percent by 2010.
“We’ve implored the Government to meet their promise of giving 0.7 percent of their GNI by 2015. This is a great step towards it, and we commend the Government for taking this step to help bring poverty to an end,” says MPH aid spokesperson Rae Julian, Council for International Development Executive Director.
Despite this success, Make Poverty History believes that the Government still needs to work on the areas of trade and bringing an end to child poverty in New Zealand.
“New Zealand's trade policy should be re-oriented to support development in the poorest countries, including in our Pacific neighbours,” says MPH trade spokesperson Barry Coates, Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director.
“We want our voices to be heard,” says MPH child poverty spokesperson Sharon Clair, Vice-President Maori NZCTU Te Kauae Kaimahi. “Come Thursday, we expect to see announcements within the budget which will continue to strengthen an end child poverty here in Aotearoa.”
The Government must also take action on the crippling debt of poor countries, says MPH debt spokesperson Jonathan Fletcher, Christian World Service national director.
“People who are poor continue to pay a heavy price for illegitimate and unjust debts imposed by the rich countries, the IMF and the World Bank. It is not too late. Governments can take action to cancel these impossible debts.”