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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.85

    27 August, 1998

    The "Five Planks" of the Hikoi; Jobs, Poverty, Education, Housing and Health

    On the Hikoi and hope
    hiklogo.gif - 8151 Bytes
    The Hikoi of Hope

  • When the Bishops of NZ's largest religious denomination decide to walk for social and economic change something important is obviously moving within the fabric of New Zealand society. The Anglican Bishops are leading the Hikoi of Hope, a spiritual walk descending on Wellington from the far reaches of NZ over the next month. They will be focussing the attention of wider NZ'ers on the growing levels of unemployment and poverty in our country, and provoking us to ask the question: When is enough, enough?

  • This is no ordinary left-wing call for action. In fact, the Bishops initiative will probably provoke a strong debate on these issues within their own congregations, especially those Anglican parishioners uneasy with the church getting involved with an overtly political statement.

    But the call for the Hikoi emerged from the floor of the Anglican synod it was not forewarned, and was unanimously endorsed. The people who were present describe the call as "a spiritual response" to the frustration expressed by so many church social service members who are at the front-line of addressing poverty issues.

    These workers were feeling increasingly hopeless about "the intolerable levels of poverty and social breakdown in NZ", and "the pain and dislocation caused by present social policies". In calling for the Hikoi, the first in the church's history, the Bishops are taking perhaps a more traditional role of spiritual leadership that of challenging fellow NZ'ers to look at our values and re-examine the choices we are making as a nation.

  • The Anglican Church is the largest christian church in New Zealand. It is made up of three "cultural partners" separately governing groups within the Maori, Pakeha and Polynesian communities. The church believes that because it is grounded in these three communities throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific, it can speak with authority about the increasing pain and social dislocation.

    The Anglican Church also provides extensive social services through over 100 agencies and programmes. And it estimates that its members provide over a million hours of voluntary community service a week. Over recent years, the church has also passed resolutions, made submissions, sent delegations and signed petitions on the issues of poverty and social breakdown. But, according to the Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rt Revd Whakahuihui Vercoe: "Successive Governments have not heeded these initiatives and the Church is seeing the collapse of a caring society"

  • Bishop Vercoe says the concept of the Hikoi is not a protest, but "a statement of where we are at as a Church and the concerns of our people" Vercoe: "The concept is a great migration. We seek to rediscover what God calls us to be. The story of Abraham is a Hikoi. The Exodus is a Hikoi ... We must create the environment as being a spiritual journey concerned with what we need to correct.

    "We are awakening our nation to the erosion of our community caused by economic policy in which we have become trapped. There needs to be a rediscovery of human values and God values within our lives. The challenge is to communicate that to the rest of the community and the world ... with our brother and sister churches."

  • The Hikoi will gather people from North Cape to Stewart Island, (see itinerary in this issue) and sub-groups will be leaving from Te Araroa, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Karamea as it moves towards Wellington on October 1st. The organisers say that the short time frame of the Hikoi is designed to let everyone be part of it: "It will include `day trippers', walkers, and runner and offer transport for older people, children and those with restricted mobility Anybody who can get from their front door to their letterbox can be on the Hikoi, and we'll find a way for anybody who can't to still take part"

  • Hikoi organisers also say they will gathering "stories" of the issues they are addressing with the walk "Carrying the message of the people to Wellington" and these will be presented to the Speaker and MPs at Parliament Grounds. According to Jim Greenaway, the Anglican Social Justice Commissioner, an invitation has gone out to individuals, whanau, hapu, community groups, iwi and other organisations that are closely involved in working with people in need in the community. They are being asked to put together an account of how they have been affected by government policies that have been introduced over the last 15 years.

    There will be public meetings and hui along the route of the Hikoi, where these stories will also be aired.

  • While the organisers are asking supporters to walk in the areas through which the Hikoi is travelling they are also asking for as many people as possible to travel down to parliament Grounds on October 1st. Early indications are that, in some areas, this may involve special trains bringing large numbers of supporters to the capital by rail.

  • Stephanie McIntyre, of the Hikoi National Support team, says that many other churches and supporters have agreed to join with the Anglican Bishops on the Hikoi. McIntyre: "Our desire is that this will become something much larger than an Anglican presentation of concerns. Everybody who sees the growing level of poverty as intolerable is welcome to join us, for a Hikoi is an action in which we walk with others and not alone. We envisage that all who share these common concerns and hopes will join with us it will be a sign to every New Zealander who lives in poverty that we know their plight, find it intolerable and are walking to change it"

    Internet bookmark: Details of the Hikoi of Hope can be found on the Anglican website at Other details can be obtained by phone from 0800 ANGLICAN.

  • It looks as though the call for the Hikoi has met a clear response from many other social service providers throughout New Zealand. Many are considering plans to allow their staff or students time off on the day the march comes through their area, to allow them to join with the Hikoi.

  • Participants who attended recent conferences at Massey University Albany (Beyond Poverty, and Social Responsibility) were recently sent a letter by conference organisers supporting the Hikoi.

    The letter said: " We are also front-line workers on these issues [of unemployment and poverty], and understand and sympathise with the feelings of frustration, hopelessness and anger amongst our colleagues around NZ. Because of this, we feel moved to strongly support this Hikoi initiative [] There won't be any banners of slogans just our personal presence on this march endorsing the message that "enough is enough" and "there has to be a better way"

  • Rod Oram, the editor of the Business Section of the New Zealand Herald recently spoke to the Auckland Downtown Rotary Club in a speech which included, amongst other things, his support for the Hikoi of Hope.

    Oram: "Thanks to the economic reforms, a lot of people are well and truly "outside the tent". The mission of the Hikoi is to make their stories, about their life outside the tent, be heard throughout the country and on the steps of parliament. Thousands will join them along the way or at rallies such as one in Auckland on Saturday September 12th

    "This Hikoi of Hope is an initiative of the Anglican Church. But when tens of thousands of people express their very great concern about the state of the nation, please do not credit the Anglican Church. From life-long membership, I can assure you it is incapable of organising anything ... not even a bun fight in a bakery. Those people will march and rally because they have something important to say. I urge you to listen to them

    "Yes, it is about human dignity and social justice. But it is also about practicalities. Do you want a tax rate of 20 per cent? I certainly do. But we won't get one until many, many New Zealanders who are liabilities drains on public finances, often for no fault of their own become assets, become people who lead lives fulfilled through employment, health and education. As a nation, we're doing a very poor job on that. It is the greatest failure of government and reform of the last 15 years. We have to stop that rot. Society itself is at risk"

    Source _ Briefing papers from the Hikoi of Hope, from the Anglican church; speech by Rod Oram, Editor of the Business Section of the New Zealand Herald to the Auckland Downtown Rotary Club Monday, August 10th, 1998; letters to the editor of the New Zealand Herald; items from the Anglican website at; and [hikoi-news] email list conference.



    13 May 1998

    That this General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui is of the opinion that further reduction of Social Welfare benefits in New Zealand, for invalids, sickness beneficiaries and single parents is unnecessary and cruel. Such reductions will be severely damaging to the health and well-being of beneficiaries and particularly their children.

    This treatment of low income households is not acceptable in a society which plans significant tax cuts for the better off. We demand that the New Zealand Government respond to the structural issues contributing to poverty, such as serious financial hardship, ill-health, lack of employment opportunities and social exclusion as outlined in numerous government and non-government research reports, an example of which is the resurgence of T.B. among people of lower socio-economic groups and noting particularly the recent North Health research on increased mortality rates resulting from poverty.

    That this General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui call for and plan a great Hikoi in Aotearoa New Zealand to take place before the end of 1998 in support of the unemployed and other beneficiaries and to converge on Wellington.

    That the General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui Standing Committee appoint a group to plan, co-ordinate and resource the Hikoi.

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