Lecture tackles housing crisis head-on
15 October 2018
Frontline social housing worker Bernie Smith will look at how to restore secure housing for all New Zealanders in the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture hosted by Faculty of Arts on Tuesday 23 October 2018.
Smith, the chief executive of Māngere-based Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, will argue that the Labour-led government is not doing enough to meet the housing needs of low-income families, and seems to be putting all its efforts into KiwiBuild houses that will cost up to $650,000 each.
"Why does the government believe it can solve the housing crisis by itself using the KiwiBuild programme, instead of proactively and creatively working with community housing providers to reduce the increasing gap between homelessness and home ownership?
"The government position is creating further poverty and a greater sense of hopelessness among New Zealand families, who only seek a warm, dry, affordable, long-term, sustainable rental home in which to raise their children."
With over 40 years in social services in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Australia, Smith has extensive experience of child protection and foster care, disabilities, seniors and now homelessness and poverty. On returning to New Zealand in 2016, he was shocked to find that in South Auckland there were 100,000 people living in overcrowded and substandard housing, and appalled to see his own people living in garages, parks, cars and lodges.
The housing crisis is a critical issue for New Zealand and needs continuing
critical debate – no-one has all the answers.
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Dr Geoff Kemp, who is on the Bruce Jesson Trust and is an organiser of the University-sponsored lecture, says that given the scale of the housing crisis "we need to engage with new thinking.
"The housing crisis is a critical issue for New Zealand and needs continuing critical debate — no-one has all the answers. With his frontline experience, Bernie Smith is someone who’ll talk from the heart and shoot from the hip."
The 2018 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture
Tuesday 23 October 2018, 6pm
Old Government House Lecture Theatre (102-G36)
University of Auckland
Tess Redgrave | Media Adviser
Tel: 09 923 7383
Mob: 027 562 5868
The annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture was established by the Bruce Jesson Foundation in 2000 to honour Bruce Jesson — a journalist, politician, and research fellow in politics at the University of Auckland.
Jesson, who died in 1999, wrote and edited some of the most important and challenging journalism in New Zealand in The Republican, which he published on a hand-to-mouth basis from 1974 to 1995, as a columnist for Metro magazine, and in a series of books including The Fletcher Challenge: Wealth and Power in New Zealand (1980), Behind the Mirror Glass: The Growth of Wealth and Power in New Zealand in the Eighties (1987) and Only Their Purpose is Mad: The Money Men Take Over New Zealand (1999).
He was elected to the Auckland Regional Council as an Alliance candidate in 1991 and chaired the Auckland Regional Services Trust from 1992 to 1995, keeping key assets such as the Auckland port in public ownership in the face of massive pressure by the National Government of the time to privatise them.