AS I SEE IT

Matt Anderson
•Participant 2007 Leadership Programme, Leadership New Zealand
•Branch Manager ACC Henderson
•38 years old

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?

New Zealand is proud innovative nation on the edge of the Pacific, inhabited by mixture of peoples who love the outdoors, have strong sense of social justice, can-do attitude, and desire to preserve the paradise that is so easy to take for granted. When it comes to our place in the world, we like to be noticed, and often punch and achieve above our weight.

What will be our next major challenge?

There are some major issues we need to address when it comes to inequality and economic participation. Our individualistic approach sees the gap between the haves and the have-nots becoming increasingly stark. Child poverty is problem, and the Census tells us that 43 percent of Kiwis over 15 earn less than $20,000. Too many children reach school age not having had adequate diet, housing and, in some cases, care. We need to face the fact that Maori and Pacific people often live in relative poverty compared with other New Zealanders and are over-represented in negative social statistics, such as imprisonment, educational attainment and health. Maori and Pacific people will make up 40 percent of our population by 2040, so if we don’t take collective responsibility for sorting out the current inequalities, the problems we see now could be magnified significantly.

What do we need to do to prepare ourselves for this?

We need to form positive vision for our nation that sees our different cultural groups living peacefully together, enjoying economic participation and self-determination, and sharing the prosperity. Fixing the issues we see in New Zealand today is not easy and takes time (generations). While taking care of number one and our families can seem like big enough task most of the time, we need to get past our individualism and take greater collective responsibility for ensuring that the New Zealand of the future is the best it can be for all of us. We need to see through the Treaty settlement process and continue to support greater economic participation and self determination for all groups in New Zealand.

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