Man hunger strikes for food vouchers
Sun, 23 Sep 2012 6:08p.m.
By Amanda Gillies
A Northland man who smashed Work and Income windows after he was refused a food grant has stopped eating. Sam Kuha hasn't eaten since Tuesday and says he won't until Work and Income changes its policy.
A doctor, who is due to visit him tomorrow, supports his stance.
For six days Mr Kuha has survived on little more than water with salt and sugar. It's a self-imposed diet that's left him starving and struggling to sleep and stay warm.
“You know when a man gets hungry it's bad enough,” he says. “When you get hungry you get mean. All the men are the same. I can only speak from a man's point-of-view.”
Mr Kuha is on an invalid benefit, receiving $244 a week. From that, he pays $190 in bills, which doesn't leave much for food.
“Some weeks I've got $20 to spend on food. Some weeks not because I've gone into overdraft and I don't have an overdraft facility so I get penalised $10 for going under overdraft. Just about every week I go into that overdraft because I can’t help it. I’ve got to eat.”
He was outraged when he travelled 4km in his electric wheelchair to the Kaikohe Work and Income office to request a food voucher but was instead referred to budgeting services because he had already recently received three handouts. So he lashed out.
“I went up to the front windows and I was going to smash them all. I hit one and the hammer bounced back and the next one I hit as hard as I could.”
That prompted the hunger strike. He now refuses to eat until Work and Income changes its policy.
Work and Income did serve him – a trespass order.
But Work and Income also told 3 News his overall welfare was a concern and staff had been working with his agent and other agencies to ensure he got the services he needed.
3 News spoke to Northland doctor Lance O'Sullivan, who will visit Mr Kuha tomorrow to make sure he's doing okay. He said he won't force him to eat or try to change his mind. He supports his cause. He said people can survive without food for seven to 10 days, sometimes even longer.
It is expected Mr Kuha will be charged over smashing the window.
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7/10/2012 7:04:03 p.m.
Reality Check!!! wrote:
Come on people, i know that there are people out there that do take advantage of the benefit, but then again there are people out there in our country that have worked all thier lives and has and an accident and as a result are unable to work OR was in a relationship and got left with the child and cant find a job to suit the hours of daycare OR are trying to study to get qualified and just cant make ends meet, there are SOOOO many more examples. dont get me wrong i do agree that the benifit is not supposed to be for long term support but hey really how easy is it to get a job these days? ITS NOT! i personally ahve been on both sides. i have been a solo mum on the DPB for 8 years and i got so much crap from winz about getting a job and and how the benifit is not a lifestyle, getting dirty looks every time i went in,istudied for 6 of those years to get a diploma and it has taken me 2 years to find a job and get off the benifit even though i am young, fit and healthy with a diploma! and just for a bit of salt in the wound now that i am working, i am earning $27 dollars more that i was getting on the benifit and now i have more petrol costs to get to work and am pretty much in the same position i was when i was getting the DPB... its not just the benifits that arnt enough to survive on its the wages too. after tax and paye and all the other crap they take away from you your are left struggling. THERE ARE HARDLY ANY JOBS! WAGES ARE TOO LOW! TAXES ARE TOO HIGH! LOCALLY GROWN FOOD IS RIDICULOUSLY OVER PRICED! THIS COUNTRY IS TAKING MONEY FROM US WORKERS AND BEING STINGY WITH IT AND MAKING THE PEOPLE ON BENIFITS WHO NEED IT SUFFER! no wonder we are all leaving the damned country.... wake up government we are not your personal game of monopoly...we are parents, widows, invalids, students and retirees looking for some fairness....working or not.
5/10/2012 11:56:05 p.m.
To those ranting about treaty settlements and this mythical single entity 'Maoridom', there hasn't yet been a treaty settlement enacted for Northland - get your facts straight. And Fredrick, your reference to 'billions of dollars' on settlements is also plain wrong. $1 billion has been spent settling ALL the historical claims (post 1840) of the majority of iwi and hapu. Compared with the $1.7 billion tax payers have had to pay to bail out South Canterbury Finance (after this Government stupidly allowed it to join a Govt-assurance scheme) I think that's a bargain deal for 'Pakeha-dom'. In response to your offensive question about what contribution are Maori making to this country, how about the fact that treaty settlements represent less than 1 per cent of the value of what was wrongfully taken, just so that nasty little Pakeha like you can keep living on and using those lands? I support what Mr Kuha has done, I pay taxes to support people like him, not to bail out South Canterbury Finance. And Fredrick, what Indian 'sustainable clusters' are you talking about? Dharavi? the slums in Calcutta? Poverty and unemployment exist in all countries, and it sounds like something out of a 19th century Dickens novel (or like something our of a Republican dinner in 2012) to chastise the poor for being poor. It is particularly offensive given the high level of unemployment and the fact that this National Government cut the funding to adult classes that might have helped Mr Kuha and others like him to train for a job.
30/09/2012 12:19:34 p.m.
Ken Brown wrote:
I think if we all koha $5 a week to the feed the whanau fund, then we would be able to help each other in times of need.
28/09/2012 8:41:52 a.m.
Farmer Jack wrote:
Well said FREDERICK ,totaly agree with you.
27/09/2012 8:07:54 p.m.
'As', I'm not telling you you should have sympathy. That would appear to be a waste of time. What I do want to say, is that I agree that there is a terrible lack of financial support for tertiary students in this country and that I, as a tax payer, support the idea of a basic universal student allowance for three-four years of study, and would happily pay more tax so that both you and Mr Kuha are better looked after. Do you understand that everyone earning over $70,000 in NZ is paying tax at the same flat and incredibly low rate 33 per cent on ALL income over $70,000? That's the lowest rate of tax for those on high incomes in the entire OECD (Australia and UK both have rate of 45%). That's where we should be targetting our anger - not at others on low or middle incomes. Keep in mind that Mr Kuha might need support for things you perhaps don't - like special transport, and paid help with jobs around his house. And keep in mind too, that not everyone may be as stirling hot as budging as you, or perhaps they have less support from family or friends, but $50 as a weekly disposable income (not just groceries, but for clothes, dentist's bills, a friend's birthday, a library fine) is still pitifully low. I think both you and Mr Kuha deserve to live with dignity, and not just off mince, and I support those on higher incomes, including me, paying more in tax so everyone, including you and Mr Kuha, are properly supported when you need it.
27/09/2012 6:55:32 p.m.
I get that he's had an accident but ultimately it just sounds like an angry little child throwing a tantrum because he's led a very poorly organised life. Almost every time i see these "hard luck" stories the focus is on the moment.... but what about the last 40 years prior to his accident? What on earth did he do during that time such that he could be in such a miserable situation now?
Blaming WINZ/GOVT for being stingy is ridiculous. Its part of their performance requirements to be so. Borrowing $300 million a week for income support is not sustainable. That $244 he gets paid, probably cost another $200 a week to administer plus interest.
And I have to ask. Where is the Maori support for this (I assume) Maori man? Where on earth do all those billions of dollars in treaty claims go? Where is his family? Where are his friends?
Frankly I think more Maori and Pakeha in NZ need to be looking a lot harder at the way Indian and Chinese communities self organise into sustainable clusters. We could all learn a hulleva lot from peoples who come from cultures and backgrounds where there is no social safety net. We are as a whole a lazy and self righteous lot and seem utterly separated from the basics of life. Life is not a right, its a privilege... that you need to get up everyday and earn.
As harsh as it sounds if you get to 40 odd years of age and you cant fend for yourself then maybe your death is the best thing for all of us. You're a waste of space. Why should the rest of the species pour precious resources into your existence? What are you? What's your contribution?
If the answer is nothing then how can you as a matter of principal expect the rest of us to prop you up? They should just drop the dole altogether, pay pensioners more. If you cant get to 65, then tough luck. We as a society continually enable and reward dysfunctional behaviour to the point that people now believe its their right to be supported in their disfunction.
27/09/2012 6:23:47 p.m.
I see Maoridom, IWI, as a seperate 'country', and looking in on fellow 'sufferers' as a 'that's terrible for the Govt. at the time, but gives us a great platform to showcase the disparity! and get more money"...is it just me in not seeing the similarities of rich tribes/IWI's allowing headlines to show maori Pakeha colonialism like this felluh in a wheelchair, and israel and Palestine?...Arab neighbours could cure/feed/sort Palestine in a month, but having them starve and impoverished 'because' of israel as 'bad neighbour' benefits whole of area (Muslums love to hate)...maoridom and IWI are no different...if so, tell me why no help and indeed rich Iwi take over poorer IWI areas...lol, too hard basket, can't give to the poor, have to keep begging!..means the elite mairi may lose 6 figure salaries?
27/09/2012 1:35:40 p.m.
Mr Kuha's income = 244.
Mr Kuha's expenses = 190.
244 - 190 = 54.
He has $54 whole dollars to spend on himself a week. I'm a student and I would consider that riches having happily had to feed myself off $30 throughout my entire degree and done so successfully. I just budgeted stringently and got creative with mince, frozen veggies and two minute noodles. I've gone into overdraft three times my entire life and still managed to live ok.
Oh yeah, I should mention I have to borrow my living costs so I don't have the luxury of swanning down to the WINZ office and getting a food grant.
So you're telling me I should have sympathy for a muppet who can't cook or budget, is offered advice to do both and then smashes a window because he doesn't get a food grant for the third week in a row despite having nearly twice my budget in food and access to free money?
Good luck with that.
27/09/2012 10:38:31 a.m.
Very good of you Ken, I'm wondering why Maoridom don't intervene, with all the hundreds of millions the IWI's around the country have (IWI local to Sam perchance?) via treaty settlements...you'd think a 'fighting fund' to assist Maori would/could be set up with a yearly donation from each IWI that had a payout in a %age terms of the amount so it's fair...or is that not the job of Maoridom/IWI and feathering the nest of the top men of the IWI is best left unasked as it's culturally awkward to ask (demand?) such things to help their own people in times of need?....just curious...
27/09/2012 6:36:02 a.m.
Always Watching wrote:
WINZ staff do seem to be disenganged with their clients. There are always two sides to stories like this and I guess when you deal with those who are bludgers all day every day, when true cases of need like this presents itself it hard to differentiate. I recognise that we need to look after people like Mr Kuha. How else will he look after himself? He sounds like someone who is willing to do all he can to help himself, he just needs some help along the way. I wonder what people would say if they themselves walked in this mans shoes.
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