Hīkoi Whakaara – everyone matters
This month the PSA joined social workers to walk 90km over three days to highlight serious issues facing the region and the nation. The Hīkoi Whakaara (meaning to rouse, activate and wake up) was organised by the PSA and the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW).
Social workers are uniquely positioned to see the cracks appearing at the frontline of social services. Organisers have identified four central issues eroding the safety net for vulnerable New Zealanders: increasing poverty, inequality, homelessness and persistent underfunding of the health system.
Eleven walkers set out from Ashburton, reaching Rakaia on the first day and Rolleston on the second. When they arrived in Christchurch on day three the number of walkers had grown to 76.
The Hīkoi concluded with a rally in Cathedral Square, addressed by speakers including Janet Quigley (PSA president), Lucy Sandford-Reed (ANZASW chief executive), Jill Hawkey (Christchurch Methodist Mission executive director), Dr Sue Bagshaw (298 Youth Health Centre medical practitioner), Gen de Spa (It’s Our Future) and Richard Tankersley (Kaikarakia).
“(Social workers) are worried by the growing threat of a health system that is struggling to cope with massive demand, particularly in Christchurch." said Lucy Sandford-Reed.
"We often hear how prosperous and egalitarian a country we are, but how can that be true when some working people are sleeping in cars, or when kids are going to school every day without access to the basic things?”