Families struggling with basics as costs rise

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The drive to school, or lunch when the kids get there. Filling the car or feeding the family. Bills or ballooning debt.

Families across the country are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living rises, and they are being made to make the tough calls over the basics.

In the Northland town of Kaikohe - where a third of households earn less than $30,000 a year - locals described the cost of living to Checkpoint as "crazy", "shocking", and "horrible".

Jeanette was among those feeling the pinch. Her partner recently left his job as a forestry worker in a remote bay because they could no longer afford the $200-a-week petrol costs to get him there.

There was no bus, e-bike or electric vehicle option available for the commute, but he had been carpooling with colleagues.

"Even with their contribution it still wasn't enough to be able to cover the petrol costs of getting out to work," she says.

"We do hope that he will find local work where he doesn't have to drive or someone else is able to pick him up, or carpool, but it's just too hard at the moment."

Now the family of four is relying on the benefit, which Jeanette says helps cover their main costs and they are grateful, but they will not be able to get ahead.

She says they have considered an e-vehicle, but they can't afford to make the switch right now.

"To sell off one car to get another car, it doesn't work out right now."

At the petrol station down the road, Kelly Black was filling up containers to take home for the four-wheeler.

He was paying $150 for the two containers alone and estimated it would be $160 to fill his ute.

Tainui was also filling up and says it was costing her $20 to get into town at the moment.

"When you're trying to run your business, it gets really expensive, you have to add that to your costs which drives your prices up higher... so it's getting real hard."

Tainui, who runs a property maintenance company, says an e-vehicle is not affordable or practical for her business.

"Up here we need our 4x4s, like if we're rolling around with a battery-powered car, it would just not work - and the dust is real bad."

Not far from the petrol station, Timi is busy selling sausages, with families and motorists pulling over for a bite.

The business helped him earn a bit of extra cash to prop up his pension. He says while he gets by thanks to careful planning, he has seen others doing it tough.

"People can't even afford a $2 sausage, and even though bread's gone up - it used to be $1 now it's $1.40 and sausages have gone up too - I know there's a lot of people who struggle, so if they haven't got the $2, well I just give it to them.

"I feel for those ones with big families."

Timi only comes into town a few days a week to save on petrol and hasn't considered an e-bike as an alternative.

But one of his customers today, Tipene Mokaraka, encourages everyone to give them a go.

"Get an e-bike, what's the point of spending $3 a litre on petrol? And with the electric vehicle that I've got, it costs me 24c to get to Auckland, so it makes sense.

Mokaraka says he has taken his e-bike to Whangārei, and while it took him all day, he didn't spend anything on petrol.

"What's the point? And then you've got road taxes and all the other bollocks that goes with it - just get an e-bike, less problems."

Ditching the car for the horse is also an option for locals, with Mokaraka saying he had to put gates on bike trails because of people riding their horses into town.

There are a couple of bus services that operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Kaikohe - but commuter options here are few and far between.

So the pain at the pump will not be easing anytime soon.

What do our MPs know about the cost of living?

Checkpoint also asked MPs what they thought about the current cost of living, would they call it a crisis, and what do they know about the prices of everyday items?


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Posted on 10-03-2022 14:37 | By Sycamore2

I listened to the MPs comments about the price of things in NZ. The question was "how much is a pound of butter". Butter is sold in 500 g so few would be able to work the cost per pound which is 454g.


Posted on 10-03-2022 13:24 | By morepork

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the rise in costs of basic necessities IS a crisis for families, who see their fixed costs rising but not their income. We are an affluent nation and we SHOULD be able to make sure our people have a non-leaky roof over their heads and food in their bellies as an absolute minimum. Not with handouts (although that is necessary if people really need help), but by ensuring a thriving economy, with plenty of employment opportunities and LOW inflation. Instead of printing money and pouring billions into the steady destruction of democracy and "co-governance", why aren’t PEOPLE and communities being targeted with this money? We wouldn’t need separate Health, Education, Law, and Government, if the billions earmarked for this He Puapua "co-governance" solution, were invested into the existing systems, to ensure fair treatment for everybody and a level playing field.


Posted on 10-03-2022 09:52 | By Kancho

Best we can do is send a message to this government is through the ballot box. The cartoon ads they spend millions on to sell flawed policies , their drip feed of slow and controlling covid response, their divisiveness. Far to many failures in housing , hospitals, policing inflation while they take in extra gst to squander. Make your own list as there is so much to vote them out on.

socialist machine

Posted on 10-03-2022 07:14 | By crazyhorse

And that machine runs on money, that money comes from tax, Labour is raking in a record tax take and still spending money faster than they are taking it in, Margaret Thatcher once said the problem with socialism and in this case separatism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples money, that happened a long time ago, now you are going to pay for it, if there was 1 thing good to come out of Covid I would have thought it would be a world-class health system? but no we are really no better off now than at the start, money thrown everywhere, millions spent on ’separatist’ policies and funding without any checks, balances or targets.


Posted on 10-03-2022 06:54 | By Slim Shady

It’s not a crisis though. She totally rejects that. It’s not their fault. They have however borrowed / printed more money per capita than EVERY country in the world apart from the US in the past 2 years. But the resultant inflation is not their fault. Jacindanomics.

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