High school students and poverty: what does it mean to them?


In October 2015, Therese Luxton, one of Child Poverty Action Group’s education and learning spokespeople, visited James Cook High School in Manurewa to discuss with students what poverty is like for real New Zealand families. The feedback they shared was sobering, and illuminating. They were asked the question:

What would having enough money mean to you?

  • Not worrying about bills – for example, power and water
  • Not worrying about church things 
  • Not worrying about the water and not worrying about cars and other costs
  • Not having to worry about buying my clothes and being able to buy whatever I want, especially my lunch
  • I wouldn’t have to worry about anything because I’ve got money to pay for what I want ­– for example, a Christmas present or straighteners
  • Being able to provide your family with goods
  • Kids would go to school with food in their lunchboxes 
  • Not having to ask to look for loans 
  • A full stomach each and every day
  • Not worrying about power and water bills 
  • Not worrying about what is to come tomorrow 
  • Not worrying about going hungry
  • Parents won’t need to worry much about their kids not having enough things in life 
  • Having enough money to send each child to school 
  • Not needing to worry about having bills overdue 
  • Not worrying about turning the heater on 
  • Buying food – a full stomach 
  • Not worrying about it!
  • Buying heaps of fruit each week 
  • Being happy and enjoying life without being stressed
  • Affording things that could help me improve my studies 
  • Having enough money so my parents don’t have to worry about health bills 
  • We could go on holidays back to our home island
  • I could afford to support myself without my parents worrying 
  • Being able to care for myself and my family – not worrying
  • My dad won’t have to work six days a week to pay house bills