Money versus Wealth by Pakanui Tuhura

I read an article in the Daily Post recently that looked at the growing gap between New Zealand household incomes and outgoings (net wealth). It was interesting and made more so by the views of a number of leading public figures in Rotorua.  In June Statistics New Zealand released figures that showed 60% of New Zealand’s net wealth is held by 10% of its richest households, 37% by middle income households and only 3% by 40% of its poorest households. Statistics New Zealand stated that net wealth is determined by the assets and cash that the household owns less any loans and other debts that the household owes to others. Comparing a previous study made in 2010 showed that the gap between rich and poor is indeed getting bigger.

I tried to determine where my own household’s ‘net wealth’ fell and found we were in the 50% of middle income households.  Then it occurred to me that accumulating monetary wealth was actually a competition and the $ was just a way to keep track of the score. Comparing my household wealth to others was just an extension of my competitive nature and really what I needed to do was to determine what I was worth in terms of the things that matter most to me. Having a roof over my head, eating regularly, staying warm, maintaining strong family, work and friendship relationships feature strongly for me and no doubt for many others. Having loads of money, flash cars, a big house or the latest technological gadgets doesn’t. Why then do so many people chase these things sometimes at the cost of their basic needs of accommodation, food and warmth? I guess it comes back to that competitive nature and I am not a person to preach but when the bible says that “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”, it got it spot on.

Another topical issue facing our community is the number of people who are unable to find accommodation in our city. Yes, all the issues facing Auckland are apparently moving south. The cost of homeless people being housed in expensive temporary accommodation could pay a large proportion of a weekly house or unit rent. The reasoning for this is beyond me and obviously on a case by case basis, but it is not a good look. As more property investment takes place in Rotorua the cost of rentals will rise as landlords seek to cover their mortgages and still make a profit. Landlords asking for higher rentals may lead to increasing the housing supplement for low income families or other financial help. I wonder where the government will get the money for these current and potential future costs especially with the impact of the election of an American President who has voiced his anti-trade sentiments throughout his campaign.

Pakanui Tuhura
Manager – Rotorua Budget Advisory Service