Ruatoria. I tried to do some research about Ruatoria a couple of years ago but I couldn't reach a conclusion based on the information I had. The continuation of the DomPost series, "Of poverty and priorities" has the answer I was looking for. Apparently in Ruatoria ninety percent of the households rely on a benefit. So why was I particularly interested in this little East Coast town?
Looking at the 2001 Census Ruatoria has one of the highest ratios of one parent families. There were exactly the same number as two-parent families. Apparently there were 87, yet DPB claimants registered at the Ruatoria WINZ office at 2004 were 216. The population was trending down so the discrepancy is probably explained by a large number of claimants living in the sticks.
Reading this morning's piece it is tempting to just think well, leave them be. Leave them to their alcohol abuse, violence, fighting and criminality just so long as they stay way the hell up in Ruatoria. But here's the thing. The East Coast has the highest fertility rate in New Zealand. We cannot keep on turning a blind eye. Thirty six percent of the people are under 15 compared with 23 for the rest of NZ. And Ruatoria is just one of many similar towns or suburbs which exist only through welfare and are outbreeding the general population. No need to wonder why today's frontpage headline reads, "Child abuse swamps police".
Here's a couple of quotes from another in Martin van Beyen's excellent series;
Ron Hedley, owner of the local sawmill, confirms he has vacancies....The work ethic and pride in independence have been lost, he says. "A culture has been established with the Government keeping everyone afloat with handout money, and why work if you've got someone who is going to support you?"
Joe Parata, who runs the Ruatoria Hotel, echoes Mr Hedley."There's only one way out of it and that is to end welfare. Everyone's too gutless to do anything about it."
And he lives. Go buy a lottery ticket mate
14 minutes ago