Essential Information on an Essential Issue
27 August, 1998
- THE HIKOI ISSUES
The "Five Planks" of the Hikoi; Jobs, Poverty, Education, Housing and Health
On the Hikoi and hope
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
- 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 http://hikoi.anglican.org.nz. 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
- 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 http://hikoi.anglican.org.nz; and [hikoi-news] email
53rd GENERAL SYNOD: MOTION 60
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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