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Child Poverty Action Group celebrate the birth of the welfare state.

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Child Poverty Action Group spokesperson Alan Johnson says Parnell's Holy Trinity Cathedral would fill to the brim many, many times over with the number of New Zealand children who live in poverty.

The Cathedral will host CPAG's celebration of the 75th birthday of New Zealand's welfare state on the evening of Monday September 16th.

Mr. Johnson says the Social Security Act was introduced on September 14, 1938 toward the end of the Great Depression. The first Labour government was in office with then Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage at the helm. The Act was based on all New Zealander's having a right to a reasonable standard of living and gave birth to New Zealand's welfare state including the provision of income support for families, the elderly, invalids and the unemployed.

Mr. Johnson says it was important to mark one of the greatest achievements of New Zealand's social history and welcomed all to the free event. "The passing of the Social Security Act in 1938 was hugely important to New Zealand's social development. Now 75 years on, it is a great time to take stock of our social progress and to reflect on the legacy - good and bad, which this Act has given us.

New Zealand historian Margaret McClure says the Great Depression resulted in many New Zealanders experiencing the hardship of poverty. "There wasn't any judgment about poverty... charity wasn't enough and it was felt the government needed to be involved."

Holy Trinity Dean Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore says the Anglican Church has always cared for the marginalized and that the anniversary of the Social Security Act would be a great talking point. "This will be an occasion to look back, to look at today, what our needs are. Anniversaries are an occasion to reflect - to talk."

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938 will also include guest speakers Professor Paul Dalziel speaking on the Economics of the Welfare State, Senior Law Lecturer Māmari Stephens will provide a Maori perspective and Associate Professor Susan St John will talk on Women and Children. Associate Professor Mike O'Brien will MC the event on Monday September 16 which gets underway at 7pm. Light refreshments will be served afterwards and all are welcome.

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