The New Zealand Parliament has become the first Parliament in the Southern Hemisphere to be awarded Fair Trade accreditation. To mark the occasion, five parliamentarians hosted an Oxfam Coffee Break yesterday in the Grand Hall.
MPs from across parties, including Phil Twyford (Labour), Alfred Ngaro (National), Russel Norman (Green Party), Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) and Barbara Stewart (NZ First) toasted each other with Fairtrade coffee, signaling Parliament’s commitment to giving a fair deal to people in the developing world who grow many of the products we consume.
Sarah Meads, Oxfam’s Advocacy and Campaigns Manager, said, “This is a huge step. New Zealanders care about the impact they have on the lives of poor and marginalised people around the world. Now we can be proud that our Parliament is demonstrating a similar awareness and commitment to help those who produce the goods we consume.
“Oxfam warmly welcomes the move to Fair Trade today. It’s a powerful symbol of the growing Fair Trade movement across New Zealand and of our Members of Parliament getting on board to support growers and producers in the developing world work their way out of poverty,” added Meads.
The Parliament Café now serves Fairtrade coffee, tea and chocolate. In addition, Epicure (the contractor supplying Parliament) will seek improvements on the Fairtrade offerings across their units.
Fair trade helps producers in the developing world work their way out of poverty. With many of the things we buy every day – such as coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, cotton and chocolate – just a tiny percentage of what we pay actually gets back to the growers, who are left struggling to feed their families and send their children to school.
New Zealanders are getting behind Fairtrade. Sales of Fairtrade certified products have increased from just over $2 million in 2005 to $52 million last year.
In 2009, Wellington became the first Fair Trade Capital City in the southern hemisphere. Now New Zealand is the first to have a Fair Trade Parliament as well. This is a powerful symbol, showing the value New Zealand places on fairness, justice and a more equal world.
Oxfam supports fair trade as a way to help vulnerable communities improve their lives. Oxfam’s Biggest Coffee Break is happening over Fair Trade Fortnight (May 4-19), with thousands of Kiwis participating in Coffee Breaks to learn more about the benefits of fair trade and raise funds to help people in poverty who grow the food we consume.