A lifelong resident of ‘the Rich Side’ takes a turn behind the counter at a South Auckland pawnshop that doubles as a food bank for its impoverished customers.
(ed: some years back i house-sat a property in clendon for a few months – and i can totally support all of the descriptions of this benighted/blighted part of auckland –
– lives of the misery and desperation engendered by the unholy marriage between poverty/an uncaring ruling class..
(yoo-hoo..!..hello phil goff..!..you are one of the architects of this – aren’t you..?..)
..the images from that place are seared into my memory – and i repeat – there is no exaggeration in the harrowing descriptions from the writer of this piece – in fact i would choose/use stronger words – verging on a raging polemic..
– and i would add it is also an area where the police act like a street-gang strong-arming their patch..where they really are ‘the blue-gang’..
this is the life the residents of clendon have had visited upon them by the previous decades of neoliberalism from first the labour party – and then eagerly backed up the tories – in their turning their shoulders to those who need help the most – insisting that ‘there is no alternative’..whereas there is..isn’t there..?..you lying uncaring bastards..
..is it any wonder that the thought of one of the faces of neoliberalism for all this time – goff – as mayor of auckland – just induces in me (as it also no doubt does in many others) just rising bile..?..)
That said – these guys are still in the minority.
I’d gone in expecting junkies galore but saw just one over three weekends.
So where are Winz in all of this?
The locals aren’t particularly fond of them.
Aroha sums it up like this: Back when she first was on the benefit – about 10 years ago ‘I was getting $1800 a fortnight for five kids… My daughter has four kids and she just went on the benefit because her and her partner split.
She stays up in Whangarei and gets $358 a week for four kids.
And that’s for rent – putting them through school – food… it’s not enough’.
It’s not just the money that’s changed she says.
‘They used to be nicer.
When I was on the benefit before they were kind.
They explained things to you – what you can and cannot get… but the case officers today – they don’t give a shit’.
I hear again and again that Winz staff don’t explain things to you – they don’t tell you what you’re entitled to and aren’t clear enough about anything.
When it comes to understanding what you’re entitled to ‘it’s not what you know – it’s who you know’.
Because if you know your officer they’ll tell you exactly what you can get.
Otherwise you’ve no idea – says Aroha.
But it’s not just that they don’t like Winz.
People here don’t trust the media – they don’t trust the government and they certainly don’t trust the police.
‘The government don’t care about how we live… they [the rich] don’t care about how we live – no one’s there to help us to live or even survive’ says one resident.
And when you can’t or won’t trust the system you have to turn to each other.