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You should take charge of our future

As migrants, we are attracted to New Zealand for many positive reasons.

It is a country of immense beauty that is largely clean, green and accessible.

Here our children can receive the best education in the world and advance to any career they wish, provided they are prepared to work hard and are supported by their families and friends.

We can aspire to find employment in our chosen fields and we can run successful businesses in which we have the aptitude or desire.

As New Zealanders, we are asked to contribute to the economy according to our abilities and, in return, we are guaranteed that should we fall on hard times we will be supported by the state for as long as it takes to get back on our feet.

When we get sick, we can have access to the best medical treatment available.

We know we are kept safe from disease and from threats.

We know we have systems to control our borders.

Generally, our country runs very well and many of us do very well.

And in our later years, we are guaranteed an income that, if we can supplement modestly from our savings, will help us enjoy what we have collectively created during our working years.

Respected Nation

New Zealand is a respected international citizen with a reputation for holding our end up as a small country.

We punch above our weight in international forums and we can be trusted.

As migrant New Zealanders and as the children of migrants, we have a part to play in enhancing this country and to leave it in a much better place than we found it when we came here.

We have added to New Zealand’s cultural diversity and while we retain the best of our cultures and traditions, some of it will inevitably change as a result of our participation in New Zealand.

At the same time, we will change some aspects of New Zealand over the coming decades. These are the essentials of development and will continue long after we have finished our contributions here.

As new New Zealanders, we are grateful for those who have worked hard to make this country what it is today and for giving us and our families opportunities to grow and prosper.

In return, I feel a sense of obligation to do what I need to do and can do to nudge this country to do even better on some of the matters that confront us.

We must understand this country in its own context and not judge it harshly.

Eradicate poverty

New Zealand’s sizable migrant and ethnic communities can help shape New Zealand’s development by focusing much more on the interests of all New Zealanders. The elections provide one such opportunity.

I want to highlight two issue that require us to think about the greater good.

There are over 200,000 children in New Zealand who live in poverty.

We must address this issue on war footing because the long-term effects will be negative on all New Zealanders.

This figure dropped significantly when the last Labour government introduced ‘Working for Families.’

Poverty disables a family’s ability to give its children the best start in life.

Poverty endangers the health of children and our elderly.

Poverty results in people having little opportunity to improve themselves.

In today’s context of New Zealand, we should not even be talking about poverty.

There are those who see poverty as the result of some personal failing of people.

I am not one of those people.

People do not choose to be poor.

They have for various reasons not been able to participate fully in society.

We must ensure that they do.

As a great nation, we ought to eliminate poverty.

It is only imaginative and creative programmes that will help us achieve this.

We will not get there if we simply judge those who are poor as having failed themselves.

We have some huge disparities in our society between those who are well off and those for whom it is a real struggle just to keep body and soul together from week to week.

Where is the fairness in this? Yet we pride ourselves as a fair society.

Flawed Programme

Our development programme in our poorer communities is fatally flawed and we need a much more inclusive approach that lifts people to feel a sense of ownership in the communities in which they live.

We must not simply repeat the prejudices of others and of those who call for an even more punitive approach to those who are at the wrong end of the social scale.

The Government has followed this approach for almost three years now, with no worthwhile outcome.

I believe we can do better.

We are interested in elevating all of us to be winners in this great country that we now call home.

Ethnic communities will make a difference in the forthcoming elections.

I invite you to think about the issues I have raised and exercise your option according to what dictates your conscience.

Editor’s Note:

Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament on Labour List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs. The above is exclusive to Indian Newslink.

Dr Prasad regularly attends community events. The above picture shows him at a prize draw held in Auckland to determine the winners in the ‘Fiji Mates’ draw. Ramil Kumar of Lautoka won a free return air ticket in the Nadi-Sydney-Auckland sectors. Among the other winners were Farid Khan (Rakiraki), Shirley Narayan (Navua), Sandeep Singh (Tavua) and James Hook (Nausori).

Then India Sanmarga Ikya (NZ) Sangam Inc National President Madhawan Pillay, Constable Mary Colgan, Vishwa Nandan and Nik Naidu were present at the draw.

The picture here shows Dr Prasad picking a winner, watched by Mr Nadan, Mr Pillay, Constable Colgan and Mr Naidu.

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