We’ve never been here before. Humans have never lived in a time when we have had the technological capability, resources and knowledge to end the worst of global poverty. As New Zealanders, we have the ability right now to bring the 23,000 of our kids living in relative poverty up to a basic standard of living. What we don’t have is the political will to solve those old problems with new solutions.
I’ve never been here before, either. I’m in my final year of a law and commerce degree at the University of Auckland, staring down the barrel of a stark choice between abandoning ship or staying aboard in the hope of helping us get back on track in some small way. Last month 4,500 kiwis went to Australia, my best friends included. They skipped for consulting jobs that dropped a bonus of $15K AU on each of them as soon as they signed. It’s a tempting offer; around 26% of my graduating class will earn less than $20Kpa until 2016.
It’s a choice every young person on the brink of their professional life might make, between living your values and trying to get quick break. This one has a new twist though. My generation have grown up with an underinvestment in education that will cripple the knowledge economy we hope to lead. We’re also faced with growing inequality, and we’ll be living in very different New Zealand to the once we grew up in if we don’t change course.
I will be exploring these issues and more at the Voyage of a Lifetime event held at the Q Theatre in Auckland on the 10th of June. The passage is already fully booked, but those keen can go onto the waiting list by registering at www.thevoyage.co.nz and watch it live streamed on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/voyage-of-a-lifetime. Follow @voyagenz on Twitter to keep updated.
Arena Williams is the President of the Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA).