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The Vote looks at how we care for our kids

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
The Vote looks at how we care for our kids

This month The Vote looks at how we care for our kids. Is the problem poverty or parenting? And what can we do about it?

Two teams led by Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner will argue the moot ‘Our kids: The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting’ in TV3’s national debate programme, screening at 8.30pm next Wednesday night. Broadcaster and lawyer, Linda Clark is again referee, charged with keeping the debaters in line and on topic.

New Zealand has long been talked about as ‘the best place in the world to raise children’, but in the past generation that claim has been repeatedly challenged by stories and statistics of child abuse, health problems, drug and alcohol issues and educational failure. Too many of our kids aren’t getting the start in life they deserve.

But where does the problem - and the solutions - lie? While child poverty has become a major issue, are our kids suffering because of a lack of money or a lack of good parenting?

Most recently New Zealanders have been debating a food-in-schools programme that raised questions about who’s primarily responsible for our children. Following recommendations from the Children’s Commissioner and a campaign by the Mana Party, the government announced it would spend almost $2 million a year expanding the KickStart Breakfast programme from two to five mornings a week in decile one to four schools. But is it helping kids in need? Or just letting parents off the hook?

Joining Duncan and Guyon next week are the six panellists below - but the most important opinions are those of the audience watching at home as they follow the arguments, and have their say via social media, text and online voting.

FOR - Guyon Espiner will lead a team arguing that the problem is parents, not poverty.

Christine Rankin is CEO of the Conservative Party and former CEO of the ‘For Sake of Our Children Trust’. A Domestic Purposes Beneficiary with no tertiary education, Christine bucked the odds to become the youngest Social Welfare director in the country, and went on to be Chief Executive of Work and Income New Zealand. A former Families Commissioner, She remains committed to the well-being of children.

Bob McCoskrie is the National Director of advocacy and research organization Family First (NZ). A Justice of the Peace, Bob has a background in teaching and accounting, and has worked with at risk youth for many years, as Director of Youth for Christ (YFC) South Auckland, and founder of the Papatoetoe Adolescent Christian Trust (PACT). He has also worked in broadcasting for Rhema Broadcasting Group.

Hannah Tamaki co-founded Destiny Churches New Zealand with her husband, Bishop Brian Tamaki, and is a senior leader in the church movement, including actively mentoring and counselling families. She runs a women's ministry, and played a key role in establishing a school and early childhood centre. Hannah also founded Healing Hands Trust which assists women and their whanau with acute medical conditions requiring urgent surgery.

AGAINST -Duncan Garner will lead a team arguing that the problem is poverty, rather than parenting.

Celia Lashlie is a former Manager of Christchurch Women’s Prison, and the first woman in New Zealand to work in a custodial role in a male prison (Rimutaka Prison). She has researched and written three books on the treatment children receive in our society, and what we can do to change this: ‘The Journey to Prison: Who Goes and Why’; ‘He’ll be Okay: Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men’ and ‘The Power of Mothers: Releasing our Children’.

Dr Russell Wills has been Commissioner for Children since 2011, and a part-time general and community paediatrician at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board. A former Head of Paediatrics at the DHB, Russell has also been the National paediatrician for Plunket. As Commissioner he oversaw the December 2012 release of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty report Solutions to child Poverty in New Zealand.

Hone Harawira is Leader of the Mana Party and MP for Te Tai Tokerau. A protestor-turned-politician, Hone co-founded the Maori Party after the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi, eventually leaving to set up the Mana Party. He led the charge on child poverty this year with his ‘Feed the Kids’ campaign, acknowledging that while feeding the kids is primarily a parent’s job, "providing the environment for stable and functioning families is the Government's responsibility."

The Vote is competitive current affairs - a monthly series of entertaining and informative national debates on the big issues facing New Zealanders. The debates take place in theatres with audience participation and voting, but the opinion that matters most is that of the audience watching at home.

Viewers are encouraged to vote for free at, via Twitter @TheVoteNZ and Facebook at The Vote NZ. Viewers can also text their vote by texting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to 3920 at a cost of 20 cents per text.

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

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